Letter from Diane Katz, November 2023

Today has been one week since I joined the Fuchsberg Jerusalem Center’s Solidarity Mission to Israel. The experience of being in Eretz Yisrael at this time was the most important of my life. It was one of deep mourning and uncertainty on one side and resilience, healing, and optimism on the other. During our three-day mission we were exposed to a myriad of voices of survival, recovery, moral clarity, and inspiration. One of these voices was that of Rachelle Sprecher Fraenkel, co-founder of the Jerusalem Unity Prize – part of her work following the kidnapping and murder of her son Naphtali in 2014. Rabbanit Fraenkel spoke about what it is to feel pain, but not “to be the pain.” That those of us who are blessed with life have the opportunity to bring goodness and healing into the world. She taught me that part of Israel’s national anthem The Hope – Hatikvah is an allusion to the prophet Ezekiel’s Valley of the Dry Bones vision of the Jewish peoples’ eternal hope to return to the land of Israel. She also taught me that hope is not passive, it is something we create through our communal actions.

I sincerely believe our presence in Israel last week brought hope to so many we encountered. It gave me a renewed sense of strength and hope for our people and inspired me to continue advocating for our hostages, the State of Israel and truth. Fuchsberg Jerusalem Center, under the leadership of our CEO Dr. Stephen Arnoff, and its fantastic professional staff took immediate action to respond to the crisis unfolding in Israel. We raised money from generous donors to house families that needed immediate shelter from a nightmare of terror and destruction. We comforted them by feeding them and providing their children with opportunities to be children through activities such as arts and crafts, games, and puppet shows – led by amazing volunteers who stepped up to help. We provided spiritual comfort to all who walked through our doors through daily prayer services and uplifting song circles in our synagogue. We brought North American Rabbis and community leaders to Israel to stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters.

We had the privilege of joining volunteers at the Hamal in Jerusalem – an ad-hoc civil command center receiving hundreds of calls a day throughout Israel and assisting soldiers, the bereaved and the displaced – to pack boxes of needed supplies to those who have been evacuated from Gazan and Northern borders of Israel. Our mission shared a hotel with the displaced community of Shlomi and on my last morning I distributed cards written by children for children. I was incredibly moved to see the joy it brought these children and the appreciation of their parents. It is so important that we stand with the Israeli people at this time.

I ask you to reach out to someone you know in Israel with words of support, every day. Call or email your public officials to thank them for their support of Israel and implore them to speak out on behalf of the hostages. Use social media to educate others about this conflict. And pray for the recovery of the injured, the bereaved, the hostages and their families, and our soldiers. No act is too small. Every act is part of our communal message of hope.

Diane Katz
Newly Elected Chair of the Board
Fuchsberg Jerusalem Center

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