Recent terror activity has brought Israel once again to the forefront of our thoughts. Many Jews wish we could connect more with Israel, but it can be hard to know where to begin. Here is a list of things we can do – today – to strengthen our bonds with the Jewish state.
Pray for the Welfare of Israel
Judaism views prayer as a participatory process. By reaching out to God, we are not only communicating with our Creator, we are altering ourselves. Each time we focus our attention on the Divine, we grow as human beings. Each time we pray, we elevate ourselves, making ourselves greater and more whole. We are moving toward becoming the person that God wants us to be.
Prayer can take many forms. We can pour out our hearts to God using our own words, or use the Siddur, the Jewish prayer book, for more structured prayers. Additionally, many people say Psalms in times of danger.
You can also recite the official prayer for the State of Israel and the prayer for the safety of the Israeli soldiers.
Donating Money to Victims of Terror
Another way to help those harmed by terror is to donate to funds set up to help its victims, for example that set up funds by the OU.
Alternately, you could pledge a certain amount of charity to any Jewish cause, in the name of victims of terror, or in the hope that the donation will help the cause of peace in Israel.
Place a Prayer in the Western Wall
The Western Wall (the Kotel in Hebrew) is the last remnant of our ancient Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. It is the holiest site in Judaism and you can have your prayer placed between the crevices of the stones. Even if you can’t be in Israel yourself right now, it’s a great feeling to know that a slip of paper with your prayer on it is actually in Jerusalem.
Start Learning Hebrew
One way to feel more connected to the Jewish state is to start learning its language: Hebrew. These days, there are many ways to study: in courses, through books, with friends, and online. Start small: commit to learning the Hebrew alphabet (there are only 22 letters!), or to taking a basic Hebrew reading course.
In addition to strengthening our bonds with Israel, taking Hebrew classes often has the added benefit of putting us in touch with other people who share our interests. B’hatzlacha! (Good luck!)
Buy Israeli Products
Aside from the tragic human toll of terrorism in Israel, there is a steep economic cost. Lives are disrupted, tourism dips. Increasingly, Israel even faces economic harm from boycott campaigns.
To show your support for Israel, make an effort to buy Israeli products. We all know about Israeli oranges and avocados (delicious together in a salad by the way!), but many will be surprised to know - from electronics to food to medicine to fashion - Israel is a global leader.
So on your way home from work tonight, make an effort to pick up a bottle of Israeli wine. Next time you’re in the market, look for Israeli foods. When you next find yourself in a department store, take a look at some of the world-class Israeli brands of clothes, shoes, and jewelry. We all have to buy food and clothing anyway, so why not make our wallets work for Israel at the same time?
Light Shabbat Candles
In the merit of peace in Israel, decide to take on one new mitzvah today. Many people have started a campaign to begin lighting Shabbat candles each Friday before sunset in memory of Israeli victims of terror.
Or choose a different mitzvah. Perhaps start saying some of the Jewish prayers, e.g. saying “Shema” at bedtime. Or resolve to give tzedaka to Jewish causes. For some, a new mitzvah might be to stop eating something that is not kosher, or to make an effort to observe the Jewish laws against gossip.
This is a personal decision, but resolving to start doing one extra mitzvah (or more than one) is a powerful way to help the cause of peace in Israel.
It might seem counterintuitive, but during times of increased terrorism, visiting Israel can be a meaningful, life-transforming experience. Whether you go alone, or through organized tours such as Birthright or the Jerusalem Fellowships nothing supports Israel like visiting the country.