Shabbat Shalom from CEO Nora Gorenstein

Dear Friend,

This week was one of the most horrible and painful in Jewish history. The heinous, barbaric terrorist attack and pogrom by Hamas last Saturday morning, during Shabbat and Shemini Atzeret/Simchat Torah, killed more than 1,300 people (men, women, and children–even infants), including at least 27 American citizens. Thousands of Israelis were injured and 150 were taken hostage into Gaza. The Israeli government has launched Operation Swords of Iron in response and has begun bombing Gaza. 

Right now, you can make a difference through a contribution to our local Israel Emergency Campaign which will go directly through Jewish Federations of North America to meet urgent needs right now in Israel. For more information on this crisis, visit our resource page by clicking here. You can also send a message of love and support by submitting a form on our website with your message and/or an image of a note or drawing.

We are asking everyone to wear a blue ribbon—and to get as many other people as possible to do the same–in support of the hostages and their families. Learn more here and use the hashtag #BlueRibbonsforIsrael. You can pick up a blue ribbon this Sunday at Ride to Provide, Monday night at Temple Beth El, and in the days ahead at the Jewish Federation office inside the Springfield JCC. 

On Sunday, we urge you to support our local Jewish community and our friends and family in Israel by attending, donating, and participating in the Ride to Provide to support our communal fundraising efforts and to be together as a community. There are many ways to be involved, so if you have any questions please contact Bobby Naimark at

On Monday, October 16 at 7:00 pm, Temple Beth El in Springfield is hosting an in-person, heartfelt, and honest conversation about the current situation in Israel with Joel Chasnoff. Joel is an American Israeli writer who currently lives in Israel and is the author of Israel 201. During this program, Joel will speak about the psychology of the Israeli population during this difficult time, how daily life has been impacted, and how children are coping, among other topics. Click here to R.S.V.P. If you are unable to attend in person, click here for the livestream.

Shabbat Shalom,

Nora Gorenstein, CFRE
Chief Executive Officer


Dear Community Members,
It has been nearly a week since Israel was violently and brutally attacked. Our world has shattered and our hearts ache with loss. More Jews died during the assault than at any point in my lifetime. The quiet of last Shabbat was shattered by Hamas unleashing terror, warfare, and inhumanity upon the residents of Israel and the entire world. The evil attacks against innocent civilians – beating, murdering, vandalizing, and brutalizing is unfathomable. We are not OK. We are hurt. We are angry. We are broken.

On Monday evening, our communities across Western Massachusetts gathered in solidarity. We held one another and we cried and mourned for those who died. We heard from community leaders, elected officials, and Israeli friends as we began to process the world that had forever changed. In the moment of our deepest grief, we knew instinctively that we needed to come together; to be together in community so we could grieve and so we could pray.

I have been so moved by the ways in which our communities have shown up in this moment. We have not turned inward, but instead turned out to one another. Our strength has shown through this tragedy. And although each of our communities is unique, I was touched by the similarity of our messages. As we enter Shabbat this week, I want to reflect on those ties that bind us together; praying for Israel’s safety and success, and praying for peace.

Lander-Grinspoon Academy’s Jake Marmer:
I find so much comfort thinking back to the sweet faces of our students (from the Friday before), singing Oseh Shalom. Something inside of me says that singing it again, and again, is really important, as important as anything we do at LGA, and I choose to believe that.

Congregation B’nai Israel’s Leadership Team – Rabbi Jacob, Rabbi Ariella, and Emily Kieval:
We do know that many of us found comfort in simply being together. When we sang “oseh shalom,” (the One who makes peace) and “olam chesed yibaneh” (we will build a world from love) while dancing with the Torahs, it felt like those words took on a quality of urgent prayer.

Temple Beth El’s Rabbi Wallk:
May the State of Israel use every reasonable effort to keep its borders secure and reestablish safety for those who dwell within her borders. May the soldiers and officers, the army, navy, air force, police, the doctors, the nurses, the medics, the firefighters have all the resources and the tools at their disposal to keep them safe and make their efforts effective and victorious.

Jewish Community Center’s Sam Dubrinsky:
While it is difficult to be so far away from the people of Israel who are hurting so deeply, I am comforted in knowing that our community stands together against these acts of terror and senseless violence. Your JCC is creating a “living room” of sorts, providing an opportunity for members to support one another, have refreshments and a creative outlet for expression, and lean on each other…Know that the Jewish Community Center is yours to spend time at and be with others – in good times and in bad.

Lubavitcher Yeshiva Academy’s Rabbinic Team – Rabbis Noach, Chaim, and Lavy Kosofsky, and Rabbi Yaakov Wolff:
The Torah teaches us (and history has repeatedly demonstrated to us) that the physical protection of each one of us — and, indeed, our very collective destiny! — is intrinsically connected to our spiritual activism. When we pray or dedicate a good deed to our brothers and sisters in Israel, we create a spiritual defense shield for them that will help them through difficult and dangerous times.
LYA students gathered to say Tehillim (Psalms) together. Middle school students met this morning to discuss ways we may support our brethren in Israel.

The loss that we have experienced is more than anyone can bear alone. But Jewish tradition teaches us that we are not alone because we are part of something bigger than ourselves; a community that is resilient, resolute, and strong. These messages show that in powerful ways. In the weeks and months ahead, we will continue to find ways to come together to support one another and to support our Israeli siblings. We will continue to do what we can to ensure that this kind of terror is never known again. But most of all, as Jewish tradition teaches us, we will pray for peace; peace for Israel and peace for the entire world.   
May the One who makes peace bring peace to us, to the People of Israel and to the whole world. Amen.

Am Yisrael Chai!

Shabbat shalom,
Rabbi James Greene
Chair, Community Clergy Advisory Council of the Jewish Federation of Western Mass.
& CEO, Jewish Family Service of Western MA