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There’s an image from his trip to Israel last week that Jason Shames, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey, cannot get out of his head.
Shames was with a delegation of 125 administrative and fundraising executives from the Jewish Federations of North America. They traveled together to Greece and Israel to assess overseas needs.
“Obviously there has been a lot of change in itinerary due to what’s been going on,” Mr. Shames said on Sunday, referring to Operation Protective Edge and the constant salvos from Gaza.
“Since we landed in Israel on Thursday, when things started escalating, we spent time devising what an emergency campaign should look like, and we decided to take a small group to show support in Sderot and Beersheva.”
My daily phone conversations with my daughter in Tel Aviv when she is on her way home from work have been starting with a new question over the past week: How many booms were there today?
This is the absurd reality of living through a war that has half of Israel scrambling for safety whenever an air-raid siren begins to wail.
Where I live, northeast of Jerusalem, we’ve had just two as of this writing. But in Tel Aviv, and certainly in more at-risk places such as Ashdod, the sirens and the inevitable booms that follow it are much more frequent. In the stairwells of apartment buildings, in bomb shelters or safe rooms, it’s impossible to tell if the booms indicate missiles falling or missiles being intercepted successfully by Iron Dome. That you only find out later from the news reports.
Rabbi Ira Kronenberg of Passaic clearly has staying power.
He also has a strong sense of responsibility and a deep concern for the people he serves.
Director of religious services at the Daughters of Miriam Center/The Gallen Institute in Clifton for some 39 years, the rabbi also enjoyed a long association — from 1972 to 2008 — with the United States Army. In both arenas, he played many roles and touched the lives of countless people.
At Daughters of Miriam, Rabbi Kronenberg conducted religious services, paid pastoral visits, supervised the kitchens, mentored social work students during their internships, and served as staff coordinator for the ethics committee and the residents’ council.
In a way, British Jewish life can seem to us, here in the United States, to be an alternative universe version of our life here.
Most British Jews have backgrounds similar to our own — most are the descendants of eastern Europeans, some of whom can be traced back three or four generations, others who are Holocaust refugees or survivors. A smaller number of them are Sephardi.
British Jews celebrate the same Jewish holidays, speak the same language, share many Jewish and general cultural references. They even can trace their mythic origins in their country to the east side of its biggest city — Manhattan’s Lower East Side for us, London’s East End for them.
There are many differences as well, though. To begin with, we do not say a prayer for the Queen during our prayer services. Our community is much larger — they have fewer than 300,000, representing about .4 percent of all Britons. (That’s roughly the number of Jews in northern New Jersey.) We have somewhere between 4.2 and 5.3 million, depending on which definition of Jewish the statistician uses. That’s about 1.8 percent of all Americans. They have those lovely, dancing, enviable accents; we plod along in our flat heavy Americanese.
Israel and Hamas are fighting their third major conflict in six years, and while some things have stayed the same, the battle lines have also shifted in a few notable ways. Here are eight things you need to know about the current conflagration:
• Iron Dome has been a game changer: The U.S.-funded Israeli anti-missile system was operational during the last conflagration, in November 2012, but its remarkable success rate this go-around has reduced Gaza’s missiles to more of an irritant than a deadly threat for Israel — so far.
In the eight-day conflict in 2012, Gaza fired some 1,500 rockets into Israel and killed six Israelis, five of them from rocket fire. In the three-week war of 2008-09, 750 rockets were fired into Israel, killing three (another 10 Israelis were killed in fighting). By comparison, more than 1,100 rockets have been fired toward Israel this time and so far there’s only been one Israeli death — by mortar fire at a border area, not by a rocket attack.
TEL AVIV — When the siren rang out in Jerusalem last week, the 41 teenage participants in a five-week summer Israel trip already were asleep, exhausted from a day that had begun with a flight from New York.
Within minutes, they were awake, out of their rooms and in a fortified room. From their shelter, they could hear rockets explode overhead.
It was July 8, the first day in Israel for participants in a trip organized by NCSY, the youth arm of the New York-based Orthodox Union. It was also the first day of Operation Protective Edge, the military campaign Israel has launched against Hamas in Gaza.
This wasn’t the trip they’d bargained for.
“Obviously, it was scary,” said Barry Goldfischer, who directs the NCSY trip. “The policy is to keep kids far away from the rocket fire. It’s harder and harder.”
SDEROT, Israel — In a little more than a week, Israel has endured more than a thousand rockets.
Yet the only Israeli death so far from Hamas’ attacks was a civilian killed Tuesday by mortar fire while visiting soldiers near the Erez border crossing into Gaza.
In many ways, Israel’s Operation Protective Edge — its third Gaza operation in six years — is much like previous Israeli campaigns in the territory. Israel has used airstrikes to exact a toll on Hamas and has massed troops on the Gaza border, threatening a ground invasion.
So far, Israel has conducted nearly 1,500 airstrikes over Gaza, and more than 190 Gazans died as of Tuesday.
With only a single Israeli fatality so far, this conflict has been like no other in the country’s history. Despite Hamas rockets that travel farther than ever, Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system has intercepted 90 percent of the rockets heading toward population centers, and early-warning sirens and shelters have protected residents.