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Op-Ed | Standing with Israel: In solidarity and action 

Oct. 16, 2023 By Assemblymember Sam Berger

My grandmother was a Holocaust survivor who, despite the horror she endured, felt it necessary to lie about her age and fight in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). Today, as I think about my family in Israel amidst the heinous terrorist attacks by Hamas, my heart feels an overwhelming mix of anger, sorrow, and determination. A day like Simchat Torah, a celebration of our Torah and the cycle of its readings, turned into a day of mourning.

The rockets didn’t just target a piece of land; they targeted the core of our spirit and identity, seeking to extinguish the light of our collective Jewish soul. The assault’s devastating ramifications have rippled worldwide, touching every Jew’s heart, reminding us all of our interwoven destinies. The horrifying scenes of violence emerging from our sacred land beckon us to rise in unity, strength, and purpose.

The question now isn’t whether to help, but how best to do so. I am so moved by the countless people who have reached out to ask how they might help. At this time, the needs of the Israeli people are unprecedented, and the tales of loss and trauma are heart-wrenching. Yet, amid the devastation, we also witness unwavering resilience. I have compiled a list here, and on my website, where you can find ways to get involved:

  • The UJA-Federation of New York is a major philanthropic organization that’s pooling resources to help. Consider contributing to their efforts.

  • Support IsraAID, an international NGO helping evacuees housed in Dead Sea hotels.

  • JCRC NY is a UJA community relations agency that advocates for the values, interests, and security of the Jewish community in New York. Contribute to support the community here at home.

  • Support the AJC, a global advocacy group currently collecting resources to support Israeli relief organizations.

  • Donate to the National Council of Young Israel, which is raising funds on behalf of several organizations, all targeting the needs of Israeli soldiers and civilians on a case-by-case basis.

Supporting these organizations will go a long way in healing the scars, both seen and unseen, inflicted by this conflict. Now, more than ever, unity is our most formidable weapon. We must rally together, not just as Jews but as global citizens, to condemn the terror unleashed by Hamas. Complacency is not an option. Every dollar donated, every prayer uttered, and every voice raised against this brutality strengthens our collective resolve against such terror.

We need to educate, engage in dialogue, and build bridges, ensuring that the world knows the truth. Israel isn’t just defending its territory; it’s defending its very existence, its people, its heritage. As I think of my sisters, cousins, and friends in Israel, I urge each of you to support the State of Israel wholeheartedly. Just as my grandmother stood up bravely for her nation, let us too stand up. Let our actions loudly echo our unwavering message: We stand unequivocally with Israel.

Sam Berger represents the neighborhoods of Pomonok, Electchester, Kew Gardens Hills, College Point and Whitestone in the State Assembly.

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