Messages From The War: Israel is our Motherland and not our Playground

[Editor’s Note: It seems appropriate to gather some of the observations of English speakers here. BE”H, I will publish them as I come across them. If I don’t come up with enough, I’ll write them myself. Here is the first installment.]

Rabbi Michael J. Broyde

Many years ago, I heard a wise observation about how American Jews should view Israel: “Israel is our Motherland and not our Disneyland: Motherland is a place you run towards in times of its trouble, and Disneyland, you do not visit when it is raining.”

I came to Israel this year right after Yom Kippur to spend some time with my two daughters Rachel and Deborah who live in Israel, as well as my wonderful son-in-law, Orr. We stayed in their lovely apartment in Abu Tor, in Jerusalem. It was very ‘Disneylandish’ for many days – wonderful family, excellent food (with sukkot in all the restaurants), spectacular weather and the best that Israel had to offer.

Until Shabbat.

On Shabbat-Shmini Atzeret-Simchat Torah during morning davening, sirens started going off, shooting rockets could be seen and the Iron Dome missile defense system went to work. Needless to say, tefillah was abbreviated – it was the fastest Simchat Torah davening I have ever been at—and horrible news reports started to be repeated.

Israel is now on war footing.

Sadness abounds – hundreds of Israeli soldiers and civilians (men, women and children) have been killed and thousands injured, with many butchered by terrorists who showed no mercy. Many are still being held hostage in Gaza to a fate unknown, but certainly miserable.

Oh how quickly we remember that this is our Motherland and even if it is sometimes Disneyland-like, our love of the land of Israel, the nation of Israel and the people of Israel is much more than our entertainment.

Now is the time for Jews – in America particularly – to be as supportive of Israel in any way they can: politically, economically, and sympathetically. The nation and people here are in shock, surprised by a vicious and unprovoked war that they did not expect. People are rallying in so many ways, with reserves being called up all the time for duty and countless people engaging in a variety of public services. Everyone needs to do what they can.

Rabbi Broyde is a law professor at Emory University in Atlanta, who has also served in a variety of rabbinic positions throughout the United States. He was a Senior Fulbright Scholar at Hebrew University in Jerusalem and a visiting professor at Stanford University. He also teaches Jewish Law at Columbia Law School. He can be reached at [email protected].

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8 Responses

  1. DK says:

    Well said.
    I heard once that so people go to get a picture with R’ Chaim Zt”l that he should be called the Yellowstone Geiser.

    Just to add a point. Just as E”Y is our motherland and we run to it in times of trouble, the Torah is the same, if not more, as well.

    The Psak we got in Shul was to continue the Hakafos as usual. (We heard some sirens but we were not near the border. Also, our shul is a big strong building facing away from Gaza.)
    “Lulei Sorascha Shashua Uz Avaditi B’Anyei”

    May Hashem help Klal Yisroel in these trying times!

  2. Michael Jay Broyde says:

    Just to explain the picture; It is of the famous Russian monument “The Motherland Calls” and a link to a discussion of it can be found at

  3. william l gewirtz says:

    Perhaps I am not as frightened as I should be. We traveled to north Yerushalayim and the city appeared deserted; the Gett was 60% of what it normally is. We are scheduled for extensive travel for 10 days before returning to Yerushalayim for another week. Nireh.

    Today, however, all changed. I knew of many young men, sons and grandsons of friends, called to the Gaza and northern front. All that added to the angst being felt. But today I learned of a soldier, the grandson of someone I know, who was injured, thought to be alive, and captured. Among so small a nation, that feeling is likely to be sadly common. May God protect our soldiers and people.

  4. Food for thought says:

    The Zionist movement, that once saw its leadership mock the Holocaust victims for going like sheep to the slaughter has now seen her beloved children, military veterans, slaughtered like sheep. Hy”d.

    • David Fachler says:

      A rather insensitive and ill-timed comment. Some in the Zionist leadership 50 or 60 years ago understated the dangers and fears of the Holocaust. It has little to do with the current victims of this massacre

      • cohen Y says:

        Agree in the dire situation

        Be that as it may ,the world we & the secular inhabit was built upon where all that was milked for it was worth

    • schmerel says:

      The anti-Zionist movement, which once criticized the Zionist movement for thinking that if there would be a state of Israel and a Jewish homeland then we would be free from antisemitism, has to go a great degree adopted their view in reverse, thinking that if there would NOT be a state of Israel and a Jewish homeland we would be free from antisemitism.

    • Jay Adams says:

      The Posuk in Tehillim of כִּֽי־ עָ֖לֶיךָ הֹרַ֣גְנוּ כָל־הַיּ֑וֹם נֶ֜חְשַׁ֗בְנוּ כְּצֹ֣אן טִבְחָֽה predates the Zionist movement by thousands of years.

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