The Jewish Effective Giving Blog

The Tragedy in Israel and the Future of Our Effort

As an Israeli, as a human being, and as the father of a young child, the past few days have been utterly heart wrenching.

The constant flood of gruesome images, personal tragedies, horror stories about decent, innocent kibbutznikim of the kind you’ve met and taken an instant liking to so many times, of their young children slaughtered—it’s really difficult to think of anything else at the moment (I know I can’t).

There have been a lot of comparisons in recent days between this and 9/11, pointing out that from the perspective of Israel’s tiny population, what occurred on October 7 is actually a much bigger event.

I’m not a fan of such comparisons, but I can’t stop thinking about how from the perspective of liberal, secular Israel, in particular, this is nothing short of a gut punch. A personal, debilitating gut punch that just makes you gasp for days. For anyone who cares about peace, about quiet, about human well-being, about co-existence, and about the future of all the parents and children of the region, this is a terribly dark and terrifying moment.

It feels dystopian to see your Facebook feed become a notice board for missing persons, calls for vengeance, pleas to free hostages written by people who actually know them, and detailed pogrom stories from a few days ago. The fear, the mourning, the anger, and the confusion are very palpable and very personal for everyone.

My father told me about the funeral of a long-time friend and congregation member’s son who died in combat, and I keep imagining how his father, whom I remember as a jovial, life-loving man from my childhood, must be a completely different person by now. 

The unimaginable loss of life and hope for so many people just makes you cry, and the absolutely horrible tragedy facing the civilians of Gaza and their children is just getting started.

In the midst of all this madness, I’ve also been praying that our collective effort—which truly has a chance to save hundreds of children from death in suffering in the coming years and prevent tens of thousands of people from falling ill—will not be derailed. I know and understand that congregations (like the entire Jewish world) will very naturally and obviously be focused on Israel for quite a while, but I hope this does not come at the expense of preventing additional human death and suffering with the charities we support. If it does, many more parents will lose their children and that would be a tragedy.

The initiative that we’ve built together saves innocent human beings from disease and death. It prevents the funerals of children and the grief of parents. Support for truly life-saving work is something our world and our people and our souls need much more, not less, of.

I pray that our governments, our communities, and our leaders start treating human life and the wellbeing of children with the seriousness and holiness they deserve, and that we ourselves manage to persevere and save the lives we can save.

Adam Azari is the head of the Jewish Effective Giving Initiative.