Well, not really…
One week from tonight (Wednesday, November 19), I am honored to be receiving the Rabbinic Leadership Award at the annual banquet of the American Friends of Sderot. The dinner will begin at 6:00 PM, and will be held at the Hilton Meadowlands (free parking included!).
For well over a decade, the Jews of Sderot have been on the front lines of the Arab terror war against Israel. Situated less than a kilometer from the Gaza border, Sderot has been the recipient of more than 10,000 Arab rockets and missiles during that time frame. One cannot walk more than 15 seconds anywhere in Sderot without encountering a bomb shelter. They are ubiquitous – at bus stops and in public parks, in playgrounds and commercial districts. They are testament to the capacity of evil people to perpetrate their evil and the capacity of good people to remain steadfast and resolute, and not to surrender to that evil.
At the heart of Sderot is the Yeshivat Hesder led by Rav Dovid Fendel, a native Long Islander. Notwithstanding its location – and perhaps due to its location and the iron will of Israeli youth – it is one of the largest Hesder yeshivot in Israel, educating hundreds of students annually. The yeshiva as well is fortified with reinforced concrete – roof, walls and dormitory – to enable it to withstand the onslaught of enemy evil. And the yeshiva administration and student body (all IDF soldiers, past and present) are renowned for teaching Torah throughout Sderot and going to each neighborhood under fire in order to bring strength and courage to the beleaguered residents.
I try to visit Sderot at least once a year, spend some time in the yeshiva, with the residents and in the shopping areas, and I did again this past summer during Operation Protective Edge. The good people of Sderot and the Yeshiva at its heart have taught all Jews never to run from evil, never to cower before our enemies, and never to abandon our principles and values in the face of challenges. Both continue to inspire all Israel with their sacrifice, strength and perseverance. They remind us that we can grow, prosper, contribute and advance the destiny of the Jewish people notwithstanding the “background noise” of our enemies.
I invite all of you to attend the dinner or otherwise contribute to the American Friends of Sderot, so we all can have a share in what they have built and we all can reap a small part of the heavenly reward that is theirs. Those wishing to attend or contribute are invited to log on to https://www.sderot.org/dinner, or call 718-673-4945.
I look forward to personally greeting all attendees. Thank you for your support.