My 72 hours started on the afternoon of Nov. 8, when I wrote my bimonthly email: “Thank G-d for the Jewish Federation.” This was said to me by a woman at one of the National Solidarity Shabbats, organized by our federation and The Jewish Federations of North America in response to the horrific attack on the Tree of Life synagogue. It detailed the work of our Community Security Initiative (CSI), as we ensure the safety, security and vibrancy of our Jewish community. It covered the hours after the attack and calls I received from our mayor, chief of police and sheriff.
Soon after, I received word about the start of the Woolsey Fire. CSI immediately began monitoring the fires and sending updates to Jewish organizations in the affected areas. I woke up in the middle of the night, saw that the fire was already impacting the Jewish community, and began plans to convene our staff the next morning.
On Nov. 9, our Chief Program Officer Becky Sobelman-Stern turned her program staff retreat into a crisis response session. We reached out to every organizational leader and rabbi in the area. We set up a hotline — (323) 761-8100 — staffed by a professional from our Caring for Jews in Need strategic initiative. The platforms we have in place, CSI and the Ezra Network, provided the infrastructure to do what was needed. I rewrote my e-mail to let the community know that we were directing our full attention and staff resources to address the immediate and long-term impact of the fires. I began to contact political leaders. Numerous calls offering help and support poured in from many national colleagues.
We immediately created our L.A. Wildfire Relief Campaign to raise funds for impacted individuals and organizations.
Rabbi Jon Hanish invited me to speak at Kol Tikvah’s Friday night services, shared with another impacted congregation, Valley Outreach Synagogue. I expressed our readiness to help in any and every way possible.
The night of Nov. 9 I kept waking up to add items to my to-do list and monitor the fires. Very early on the morning of Nov. 10, it became clear that the fire was moving toward three of our cherished summer camps: the Wilshire Boulevard Camps Hilltop, Hess Kramer and Camp JCA Shalom/Shalom Institute. I couldn’t go back to sleep.
On the morning of Nov. 10, I received another flurry of emails from Israel, detailing a barrage of rockets from Gaza hitting southern Israel. I contacted partners and colleagues there to ask how we could help. Our partners at the Israel Trauma Coalition said they were already engaged, thanks to work we did together in 2012 and 2014.
“A man came up to me and said the words that made all of our work worthwhile: ‘Thank you and the federation.’”
At 8 a.m., I began a series of in-person meetings with representatives from the organizations most impacted by the fires. I spent the rest of the day and night on conference and individual calls with the leaders in the impacted areas.
After another sleepless night, it became clear that the three camps had been destroyed by the fires.
At 8 a.m. on Nov. 11, I began a series of meetings with people from Jewish organizations. I spent hours supporting and strategizing with Camp JCA/Shalom Institute’s Rabbi Bill Kaplan and his staff. I joined a now daily conference call with rabbis, leaders of organizations and individuals.
At 1 p.m., I attended the memorial service our federation organized for the family of Bernice and Sylvan Simon, the couple murdered at the Pittsburgh synagogue. I spoke about how their lives truly were a blessing. Afterward, I offered support to Rabbi Steve Leder of Wilshire Boulevard Temple. The federation then created a crisis center at our offices in Tarzana and offered space to any organization or synagogue that needed a place to call home.
At 7 p.m., I addressed more than 500 campers and alumni of Camp JCA Shalom at de Toledo High School in West Hills. I shared our commitment to rebuild what was lost and told them what I truly believed: The power of camp and our community was in that room.
As I left, a man came up to me and said the words that made all of our work worthwhile: “Thank you and the federation.”
He then gave me just what I needed after everything I’d experienced in those 72 hours — a hug.
Jay Sanderson is CEO and president of The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles.
The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration — which seeks to criminalize criticism of migration — is nothing more or less than a dangerous effort to weaken national borders, to normalize mass migration, to blur the line between legal and illegal immigration, and to bolster the idea that people claiming to be refugees enjoy a panoply of rights in countries where they have never before set foot.
One thing about the agreement, in any event, is irrefutable: almost nobody in the Western world has been clamoring for this. It is, quite simply, a project of the globalist elites. It is a UN power-grab.
The waterfront in the Chilean city of Valdivia. Photo: Arvid Puschnig via Wikimedia Commons.
Top Jewish groups have welcomed a Chilean government decision made earlier this week to ban municipalities across the country from boycotting Israel.
The ruling — issued by the Comptroller General of Chile – stemmed from a complaint filed by the Chilean Jewish community over a move of the Valdivia municipality to ban the city from signing contracts with Israel-linked companies.
New immigrants to Israel arrive at Ben-Gurion International Airport, Aug. 17, 2016. Photo: Reuters / Baz Ratner.
A top Israeli minister called on the government on Sunday to craft a “comprehensive plan” to encourage the aliyah of French Jews.
In Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett’s view, there has been a “historic missed opportunity” in recent years to bring more French Jews to Israel as immigrants.
“There are 200,000 French Jews who want to come here, and the state bureaucracies simply aren’t prepared for it,” Bennett, who also serves as education minister and head of the right-wing HaBayit HaYehudi party, claimed at a cabinet meeting in Jerusalem. “These are ethical people, Zionists, lovers of the Jewish people and the Land of Israel, and it is our moral obligation to help them.”
Israel has started uncovering and destroying Hezbollah’s attack tunnels under the Lebanese border, but destroying the group’s ambitious precision missile project will be much more difficult.
The Israel Defense Forces placed a camera into Hezbollah’s secret cross-border attack tunnel before sunrise on Dec. 4. They pushed it into the Lebanese side, under the Blue Line that separates the two countries. At dawn, two Hezbollah operatives reached the spot on their morning rounds. In the video disseminated by the IDF on Tuesday evening, one of the operatives is seen approaching the camera with suspicion. He stuck his nose in its direction and started to sniff around until something exploded in his face and he ran back the way he’d comVisibilitye.
The timing of Operation Northern Shield, to destroy Hezbollah tunnels leading from Lebanon into Israel, suggests that considerations other than security were behind the decision to launch it.
An Israeli commando from Yahalom, an engineering unit, takes part in a tunnel-hunting drill near Tel Aviv, March 7, 2012.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered a speech to Likud activists on Dec. 2 that was both defensive and combative toward law enforcement authorities. He complained about the supposedly suspicious timing of the police announcement recommending his indictment for taking bribes in Case 4000, coming as it did one day before Police Commissioner Roni Alsheikh concluded his term in office.
This week, for the first time, Israel made public its discovery of the tunnel constructed by Hezbollah and reaching into Israel’s sovereign territory. This brought to an end a long period during which a large number of Israelis living in communities adjacent to the Lebanese border reported hearing sounds of digging as well as feeling tremors in the walls of their homes.
Attack tunnels are intended to allow for significant numbers of armed infantry bearing weapons, artillery and supplies, to traverse them within a minimal time span, avoiding Israeli lookouts and thereby gaining the element of surprise.
Last Saturday, Iran’s “moderate” President Hassan Rouhani called Israel “a cancerous tumor” in a speech at the regime’s annual Islamic Unity Conference.
Rouhani’s fellow speakers included deputy Hezbollah chief Naim Qassem and Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh. Both terror bosses called for the destruction of the “cancerous tumor.”
With the predictability of a Swiss clock, the Europeans rushed to condemn Rouhani. The EU in Brussels condemned Rouhani. The German Foreign Ministry condemned Rouhani. And so on and so forth.
We could have done without their statements.
It was clear that with the onset of Operation Northern Shield—meant to neutralize terror tunnels Hezbollah has constructed along the Israel-Lebanon border—some would call it a public relations stunt by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Those who believe the timing of the police’s recommendations in Case 4000—announced on the last day of Roni Alsheikh’s tenure as the police commissioner—was reasonable, somehow complain about the timing of the operation.
On Sunday evening, December 2, the people of Sderot, Israel – a town located a mere kilometer from the Gaza border – gathered to light the first candle of the town’s menorah to commemorate the first day of Hanukkah. Jews around the world celebrate this holiday, which marks the time some two millennia ago when the Jews regained control of Jerusalem and rededicated the Second Temple.
What makes the candle lighting in Sderot worth mentioning is the fact that it is particularly symbolic of how the Jewish spirit looks for ways to turn tragedy into triumph.
This is obviously a short-lived honeymoon that will end the day after the UN General Assembly vote on the anti-Hamas resolution. The morning after the vote, Abbas will wake up to the realization that Hamas was a strange bedfellow indeed.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s hatred of Hamas is far from secret. But Abbas is now defending Hamas because he despises the Trump administration, which has sponsored a UN draft resolution that condemns Hamas. Pictured: Abbas (right) meets with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh on May 30, 2007 in the Gaza Strip. (Photo by Abu Askar/PPO via Getty Images)