A Week of Tragedies

This may be the saddest week I’ve had to write about since starting this blog.

First, I was going to report that David Kandelman, an NCSY alumnus (class of 2009), passed away while serving in the IDF. He was buried in Israel and we wish his family a nechama.

Then, the tragedy in Japan struck. An earthquake, a tsunami, aftershocks, nuclear reactors damaged – it hasn’t let up. That tragedy was still ongoing when we announced a fund for the victims of the Japanese earthquake and its aftermath.

That was last week, erev Shabbos. Saturday night, we were faced with the news of the horrible tragedy in Itamar, Israel. The Fogel family, resting peacefully in their home, were attacked in their sleep by inhuman savages. Both parents and three children – including a toddler and an infant – were brutally massacred. Baruch Hashem, three children survived, but their lives have been irrevocably shattered by the traumatic scene and the loss of their family. The OU swept into action, immediately establishing a fund for the victims of this horrific act of brutality.

In an article in the JTA, Orthodox Union COO David Frankel reported that both funds were receiving equally healthy response. Truly, the Jewish people are rachmanim b’nei rachmanim, a compassionate people of compassionate stock.

I’m also attaching a link to a YouTube video memorial that was prepared by Shmueli Schwartz, a smicha student at YU from Los Angeles. I found it particularly moving and thought you might as well.

Of course, it would be easy for me to wax political about how terrible it is that the world screams louder about Israel building apartments than it does about the casual spilling of Jewish blood, but that territory has been well trod and it really doesn’t seem like the venue for it here. At this time, I would rather just express our collective grief.

Purim is right around the corner. This year, our most joyous occasion is tinged with immeasurable sorrow. Among the mitzvos of Purim, we find matanos l’evyonim. Remembering the less fortunate has always been an inherent component of Jewish celebration. Accordingly, I encourage everyone to contribute as their means allow to either or both of these worthy funds.

Please accept my wishes for a joyous, healthy and safe Purim. May the families of all these tragedies, the Jewish people and the entire world be comforted and spared future such calamities.