Chanukah in Israel for years to come may never be the same. Life is fragile. It is a reality we often ignore until we are faced with tragedy. Israel, indeed our whole people, is in the midst of the Carmel Fire tragedy. In the past two days more than 40 souls have been lost. 25,000 people have been evacuated, homes are destroyed and more than 7,000 acres of forests are on fire or already lost which constitutes half of the Carmel Forest.
Like a terrorist attack, nearly everyone has a connection to the dead, injured or impacted. I have heard already of several victims who I can link to by no more than two degrees of separation. Israel is a little country. 40 dead for her is the equivalent of more than 1700 for the United States, half the number who died on 9/11.
The dead reflect Israel; men and women, Jews and non Jews, almost all under 30, mostly married with young children. For many of the prison guard cadets who perished, becoming a civil servant was an opportunity for upward mobility.
Israel has asked and is receiving assistance from Turkey, Greece, Jordan, Egypt, Italy, Russia, Spain, America and the list is growing.
We love fellow Jews unconditionally. We are commanded that each Jew is responsible for every other Jew, indeed for humanity in general. These values motivate our Movement in the United States and in Israel. Our holy work is to help build an ever more tolerant, pluralistic Israel; an Israel for all Jews and all its citizens.
The ARZA Carmel Israel Emergency Fund is one more expression of our values, one more way to help our people. The funds will assist displaced residents and the families of those who died. We will also participate in caring for the Carmel forest. ARZA funds will be part of the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism (IMPJ) Humanitarian Fund efforts.