Am Yisrael Chai


Beth El teens Katie (far left), Joel , Josh , and Sam at the AIPAC conference at the Verizon Center.

The Am Yisrael Chai committee will be collecting updates from the different auxiliary groups at Beth El and from throughout the community regarding what they are doing involving Israel.

Beth El’s newly formed Am Yisrael Chai Committee is intended to be a vehicle for enhancing our communal connectedness to Israel. Ideally, it will serve to establish or elevate the importance of Israel in the daily lives of every Beth El member. We hope to achieve that goal through: (1) Education across every age and interest-based demographic within our congregation, including exposure to every facet of Israel’s mosaic – its history, culture, social structure, economy, politics, and charitable organizations; (2) Communication internally and externally about the Israel-centric activities and programming at Beth El and in the larger community; and (3) Inclusiveness permitting diverse perspectives to be offered in a collegial and supportive environment.

One concern that appears to animate many within our congregation is better preparing our children, especially our high school and college students, to deal with anti-Zionist challenges increasingly prevalent on college campuses. That will be an important focus of the Am Yisrael Chai Committee.

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.

Israeli Shlichim at Beth El

Beth El’s connectedness to Israel has been greatly enhanced by the presence of our second Israeli shlicha (Hebrew for messenger), Tal Greenberg. Thanks to efforts by Rabbi Harris, and under the aegis of the Jewish Agency, Beth El, in partnership with the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School, is hosting an Israeli who will spend approximately half of her time at our shul. We believe our Israeli shlichim has supercharged our efforts.

You can read more about our Israeli shlicha, Tal, on page 3 of the November 2018 Scroll.

The launch of the Am Yisrael Chai Committee comes at a paradoxical time in Israel’s history and in Beth El’s connectedness to Israel. If Israel were a Rorschach test, it could be viewed either as in great shape or in a state of constant, simmering crisis. On one hand, Israel as a modern nation state has never been more powerful economically, technologically, or militarily. On the other hand, Israel lives under the existential threat of a foreseeably nuclear Iran, is the target of a global delegitimization campaign in the form of the boycott, divest, and sanction (BDS) movement, and is the scene of daily terror attacks.

Creating More Connections with Israel

What is Beth El’s reaction? As individuals, many congregants are engaged with Israel in a multiplicity of ways. Our members fill the ranks and the leadership of pro-Israel advocacy organizations. A good number of us travel to Israel regularly for pleasure, business, or to volunteer, and some even have second homes there. Both of our rabbis met their wives in Israel.  Israel is a prominent topic of conversation from the bimah and during kiddush. As a congregation, however, we can do much more to create a pervasive sense of collective connectedness to Israel.

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