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Spokane Rabbi Laments Destruction in Israel Amidst Hamas Attack, Calls for Local Support

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Spokane Rabbi Laments Destruction in Israel Amidst Hamas Attack, Calls for Local Support

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News Story by Tracy Simmons | FāVS News

Rabbi Yisrael Hahn hasn’t been able to sleep since the Jewish diaspora awoke to horror Saturday morning.

Hamas launched an attack on Israel after the end of Sukkot, a seven-day Jewish festival commemorating the Israelites’ life as they wandered 40 years in the desert after being liberated from slavery in Egypt.

As of Monday, more than 1,600 people were killed — approximately 900 Israelis and 770 Palestinians — with that number expected to rise. 

rabbi hahn
Rabbi Yisrael Hahn / Chabad.org

“I am rattled, devastated and quite frankly still digesting what these savages did to our family and brothers and sisters in Israel,” said Hahn, of Chabad of Spokane County.

The assault also fell on the weekend of Simchat Torah, a holiday marking the completion of the yearlong cycle during which the entire Torah is read.

Hahn said the timing was intentional.

“We knew that they selected this day carefully in order to convert a day of happiness, joy and dancing to a day of mourning around the Jewish world, and we would never allow them to do just that. So, we danced, we said ‘lechaim’ and had a good time,” he said. “But inside our hearts were broken. We were in deep shock.”

According to the Associated Press, Hamas wants to “liberate all Palestinian prisoners” from Israel and end Israeli provocations in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem, particularly at Al-Aqsa Mosque, a spokesman for the militant group said Monday.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy commented on the attacks, calling them evil, saying only “rules [and] international law” can ensure peace around the world.

Yonat Shimron of the Religion News Service explained, “American Jews have been divided about Israel’s ultranationalist government and its repressive policies toward the Palestinians. But those conflicts took a back seat as many Jewish institutions … took up the slogan, “We Stand with Israel.'”

Israel, Hahn said, has a difficult road ahead and is calling for action. He said people in the U.S. can help in a variety of ways, from prayer to making financial contributions to getting on the phone with politicians. 

“The world runs on a spiritual program. When we do a good deed we increase the divine positive energy in this world; when we do a mitzvah (commandment), like putting on tefillin, putting a mezuzah on all your doors, lighting Shabbat candles, keeping Shabbat, keeping a kosher diet,” Hahn said.

Chabad is raising funds for Israeli soldiers who need basic equipment. 

People can also offer prayers online. Hahn urges people to say Chapters 20 and 130.

“Add more chapters if you can. Israel needs our prayers,” he said, adding his own, “May G-D usher in a time of redemption, a time when hate and death will cease, the time when Moschiach will come and redeem us. May it be speedily in our times.”

Temple Beth Shalom made a statement also regarding the Israel-Hamas War.

“Our hearts are with the people of Israel. We are horrified by the sudden and brutal attack from Hamas, and Temple Beth Shalom stands with the State of Israel. We pray for strength and victory for those who are defending its citizens, and we pray for healing for the wounded, redemption for those captured, and comfort for the bereaved,” the statement reads.

The temple urges people to donate to Magen David Adom – Israel’s emergency services and The Masorti Movement, their sister movement in Israel, and their congregations.

Tracy Simmons
Tracy Simmons
Tracy Simmons is an award-winning journalist specializing in religion reporting and digital entrepreneurship. In her approximate 20 years on the religion beat, Simmons has tucked a notepad in her pocket and found some of her favorite stories aboard cargo ships in New Jersey, on a police chase in Albuquerque, in dusty Texas church bell towers, on the streets of New York and in tent cities in Haiti. Simmons has worked as a multimedia journalist for newspapers across New Mexico, Texas, Connecticut and Washington. She is the executive director of SpokaneFāVS.com, a digital journalism start-up covering religion news and commentary in Spokane, Washington. She also writes for The Spokesman-Review and national publications. She is a Scholarly Assistant Professor of Journalism at Washington State University.

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