“If I forget thee, O’ Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its cunning. Let my tongue cleave to my palate, if I do not remember you.” Psalm 137
“To be a free people in our Land, Eretz Zion, In Jerusalem.” Hatikva, concluding verse.
Congregation Beth El stands with Israel, and Israel stands with us. The ties between our congregation and the State of Israel are strong and multi-dimensional. They bind us spiritually, emotionally, physically, politically, and financially. In our daily and Shabbat prayers, we chant of the love and loyalty we have for God and the holy place of Jerusalem and pray for peace for Israel’s inhabitants. Many of us have family or friends living in Israel and some have apartments there as well. We seize the opportunity to join Beth El’s annual mission to Israel where we can see firsthand the realization of a three-thousand-year-old dream and the modern miracle that is Israel. Many congregants support Israel through political action, purchase of Israel bonds, giving Tzedakah to Israeli charities, and investing in Israeli start-up companies.
Beth El has a standing committee, formerly the Israel Action Committee and recently renamed Am Yisrael Chai, to guide the plethora of Israel related activities at our Shul. If you are interested in joining this committee, please contact Larry Sidman.
As well, Beth El also offers a wide variety of Israel programs for teens, both through our Religious School and our Youth Department. Click here for more information on upcoming Israel events for teens.
- This year, as every year, many Israeli citizens will attend heart-rending ceremonies at the country’s cemeteries to honor their loved ones who departed too soon while defending the Zionist dream, the Jewish state.
- The citizens of Israel unite on this day behind the screen of sadness, while in the background are the many stories, perhaps too many, of the fallen heroes who gave their lives for their homeland and endangered themselves for all our sakes.
- We don’t have a real need for such a day because we live the loss every day, every hour, at every important crossroads in our lives. Yet Memorial Day is important. We receive a warm hug from all the other citizens and from the state. We feel that we are not alone in our pain.
- We know that thanks to our loved ones this country exists, and thanks to them most of us can sleep well and without fear. We know that they sacrificed themselves exactly for these goals, in order to ensure our future in our small land.
- We want to live quietly, to allow our children to live in the Promised Land and raise new generations who will continue in our path. We ask to live in peace with our neighbors. This is our country. We don’t have another one.
- May we never know bloody wars anymore, may we live peaceful lives, and may the family of bereavement no longer continue to grow.The author – Nava Shoham Solan – is chairwoman of the IDF Widows and Orphans Organization.
Iran Nuclear Agreement Forum
On September 3, 2015, Beth El held a forum on the Iran Nuclear Agreement with David Makovsky, Ziegler Distinguished Fellow with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. You can watch the forum in the video below.
In times of critical need, our brothers and sisters in Israel can rely upon us to stand by their side. Emergencies require extraordinary commitment. We provide it.
In 2002 and 2006, during the second Intifada and the Lebanon War, respectively, Congregation Beth El came together as part of the whole congregation of Israel to assist those in Israel suffering from terror and missile fire. During each conflict, congregants rallied to purchase a fully equipped ambulance, at a cost of $1 million dollars each, for delivery to Magen David Adom to help ensure speedy medical treatment for injured Israelis.
In 2014, to assist Israel in defending itself against Hamas’ ceaseless rocket attacks and planned tunnel terrorism from Gaza, we joined together with the Jewish Federations of North America to fund Stop the Sirens. Many of us also contributed to the Friends of the IDF and special emergency funds established by other Jewish organizations such as the Jewish National Fund.
We are fortunate to have as members of our congregation three of the top staff members of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. In addition, one of our congregants is formerly the AIPAC chair for the Greater Washington region. In 2014, Congregation Beth El had the largest contingent of any Greater Washington area synagogue at the annual AIPAC convention. Together with many other members in our congregation, they are a tremendous resource for accurate, current information about issues affecting the security of the United States and Israel. They constitute the core of a talented pool of congregants, some of whom are legislative advocates professionally, who lobby the Congress to forge the strongest possible American Israel relationship. Please contact Hilary Smith Kapner if you are interested in assisting AIPAC.
Exemplifying the diversity of views characteristic of Beth El and the manner in which they coexist respectfully and civilly, we also have congregants who are very active in J Street. Please contact David Goodfriend if you are interested in becoming involved with J Street.
Israeli Charities and Nonprofits
Beth El congregants, both individually and collectively, actively support and assume leadership roles in a wide cross-section of Israeli charities and nonprofit organizations. Each year, Beth El hosts a breakfast for the Jewish National Fund, generally featuring a leading Israeli media or political figure. Beth El members sit on the Board of the American Friends of Ben Gurion University. Proceeds from Mitzvah Day, our shul’s major social action/Tikkun Olam event of the year, go partly to fund the work of Keren Or, a special needs school; Yad L’Kashsish, an arts and crafts workshop for the elderly; and Friends of the Israeli Defense Forces.
Investing in Israel
Beth El holds an annual Israel Bonds appeal during the High Holidays. We encourage congregants to invest in Israel’s future through the purchase of Israel bonds and historically rank high in such investments among Greater Washington congregations. Click here to read the Bond Appeal for Yom Kippur 2015/5776.
We also have an Israel Investment Club that focuses on funding startup companies in Israel. Please contact email@example.com if you are interested in learning more or participating directly in the growth of the Israeli economy.
Throughout the year, except in the summer, Beth El hosts an Israeli film and media series. We exhibit leading Israeli films and television series that explore provocative topics affecting Israeli society. Recent examples include Aviva My Love, The Gatekeepers, and Hatufim/Prisoners of War. Please contact Ricardo Munster if you are interested in planning the programs for this series.