Two NC Rabbis on Israel: This is Our 9/11 (Rabbi Judy Schindler and Rabbi Asher Knight)

Written by Rabbi Judy Schindler and Rabbi Asher Knight for The Charlotte Observer

Saturday, on what was meant to be a day of celebration, marked by observing our Sabbath and concluding the harvest festival of Sukkot, tragically transformed into a day of darkness and sorrow. The morning brought a horrifying nightmare, as Israel faced a massive, meticulously coordinated terrorist assault targeting its civilians. These attacks spared no one, striking on the roads and even within the sanctity of homes.
Israel now grapples with an orchestrated onslaught from sea, air, and land. The blaring sirens serve as a constant reminder of the imminent danger, with thousands of rockets raining down on Israel. Not since 1973, exactly 50 years ago, has Israel experienced such a massive and violent assault, plunging it into the depths of war. Close to two dozen towns and communities were infiltrated. Men, women, and children have been kidnapped and held hostage by terrorists. Even the Iron Dome, symbolizing Israel’s technical advantage, has been overwhelmed.
Our hearts ache with worry, sadness, and uncertainty as we receive continuous updates from our Israeli loved ones through phone calls and texts. As this Sabbath comes to a close, reports from our counterparts, Israeli rabbis and lay leaders, suggest that this harrowing ordeal has claimed more than 600 Israelis and left thousands wounded or taken captive. It is a heartbreaking reality we confront as we absorb these devastating numbers.
Members of the Charlotte Jewish and broader community maintain strong ties to these affected areas, with some Charlotteans touring, visiting family, studying, and even residing there. A young Israeli student studying here in Charlotte reached out and expressed her profound pain at this moment: “This morning is one of the hardest I’ve experienced in my life… I lost two friends, and five more are missing.”
In these challenging times, we stand resolutely united with Israel, sharing in their fear and crisis. An attack on Israel poses not only a threat to its people but an existential threat to the entire Jewish community and our collective identity. With approximately 7 million Jews out of a global population of 15 million residing in Israel, this threat strikes at the core of our Jewish family. Today, we are reminded of our historical vulnerability, as the world’s Jewish population has not fully recovered to pre-Holocaust levels despite the passage of time. The establishment of Israel was intended to provide a safe haven, and now even that safety and existence are under challenge.
In the days ahead, Israel will exhaust every resource to protect its citizens, prevent further loss of life and destruction, and secure its borders as the homeland of the Jewish people. The foremost duty of any government is to safeguard its citizens from physical attack. Israel is no exception. We hope that the world will comprehend the necessity of Israel’s armed response and refrain from hasty condemnation, choosing instead to support efforts aimed at restoring peace and security to the region.
This is Israel’s 9/11 and coincides with advances in the peace process with Saudi Arabia which some commentators say is purposeful. At this time of grief and terror, we are also cognizant of the innocent Gazan civilians trapped in an unending cycle of devastation brought on by the policies and practices of the Hamas-run government – including this invasion.
As Israel faces this relentless assault, we stand in unwavering solidarity with our Israeli brethren. Our hearts are heavy with sorrow and shock over the relentless attacks orchestrated by Hamas during sacred times —moments meant for renewal and celebration within our faith.
Our profound grief extends to the innocent lives tragically lost on both sides of the border, and our fervent prayers go out for the swift recovery of those injured in these devastating attacks. Our thoughts and solidarity are with the courageous defenders of Israel, and we earnestly hope for the safe return of those who have been taken captive.

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