Wednesday, October 5th | 10 Tishri 5783

August 7, 2018 7:51 am

Summer: A Time For Jewish Unity and Saving Jewish Lives

avatar by Karma Feinstein Cohen


A Magen David Adom ambulance. Photo: David King via Wikimedia Commons.

Working for Jewish unity should have been an imperative for Jews all over the world this summer, as Islamic terrorists in Gaza have been sending incendiary kites into Israel in order to set fire to Israeli farmland and forests. The terrorists have also been launching barrages of missiles aimed at Israeli civilian neighborhoods. One firebomb balloon landed in the yard of a kindergarten in the southern Israeli town of Tkuma. And all of this happened while the Jewish people were in the midst of the very season when we mourn the destruction of the Holy Temple.

To make matters worse, there were reports of Jews in the United States and in Britain seemingly showing more concern for our adversaries than our fellow Jews. News headlines about Kaddish being recited for Hamas terrorists, Birthright participants leaving tours to learn about “the Occupation,” and Jewish summer camp counselors conspiring to teach their campers the Palestinian narrative, seemed all too frequent this summer.

The season of Tisha B’Av, when we mourn the destruction of the Holy Temple, is a time each year when we are reminded that the Jewish people lost our sovereignty and our homeland because of baseless hatred and infighting — because we could not and would not show concern for one another.

That is why the news that a Magen David Adom ambulance was donated to Israel by the Kehillah of Old York Road in suburban Philadelphia was especially encouraging.

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This ambulance effort was so inspiring in part because it involved “multiple synagogues from Reform to Orthodox that consistently collaborate on events and initiatives,” according to the Philadelphia Jewish Exponent. The fact that some Pennsylvania Jews cared enough about Israelis to spend their time and money on emergency equipment is a perfect example of tikkun olam.

All Jews, no matter what their political views, religious ideas, or countries of residence must support efforts to care for those Jews who need medical attention.

Jewish unity is of the utmost importance and this ambulance campaign beautifully showed that it can be a reality. Far too many of us who feel strongly one way or the other about the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria (“the settlements”) often find our ourselves in near-endless political debates about these and related matters, and we forget to pause when something happens that we should all celebrate.

You may think that one Israeli ambulance can’t change the world. But it seems to me that ancient Jewish wisdom disagrees with that view.

Today’s Jews should not allow our differences of opinion to stop the vital work that needs to be done to bring our community together. One way to make things better may be for Zionist organizations (and Jewish newspapers) to spend less time enthusiastically pointing out what some other organization is doing wrong, and instead concentrate some attention on trying to catch other Jews doing something right.

We should all hope to see many more community-wide projects that include Jews of all backgrounds and have the ability to save Jewish lives.

Karma Feinstein Cohen is the Executive Director of World Herut. More information about Herut is available at 

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