October 17, 2023 | Current Events

Finding Unity

By Adir Glick

Rabbi Glick’s speech at the October 17th solidarity with Israel gathering at Oak Park Temple.

We have heard tonight from our local Jewish community a piece of what we the Jewish people have been undergoing, feeling, and expressing over the past ten days all around the world. We have invited our civic leaders, clergy leaders, and guests and friends in our community to join us. We appreciate their solidarity and support at this most challenging time for us, perhaps since the Holocaust 75 years ago. Thank you for being here. Thank you to everybody here, we are one Jewish community.

It is still a shock. The brutality, the magnitude of our loses and injured, small people that we are, over 1300 killed in one horrific day, 4000 injured, 250 hostages. A whole country held hostage. There has been a realignment. We are not the same people that we were before this happened. We will not be the same people on the other side.

I have heard a great expression from so many in these past days of pride in their Jewish identity, that Am Yisrael Chai, the Jewish people lives, we will not allow our spirit to be diminished. We now have a sense of having undergone what our grandparents and great grandparents underwent, waking up one morning to find out about a pogrom, an attack of senseless and brutal violence targeting women children the elderly, everybody knowing or hearing of a friend, family member, loved one who was a victim, or lies in darkness in Gaza in unimaginable condition, as two Evanstonians, merely because they were Jewish, or even connected to Jewish people, Israeli Arabs Bedouins, Nepalese Thai workers, people of over 20 nationalities were also slaughtered.

This barbaric attack came after the Israeli government had released more work permits, taken the military away from the Gaza border, and opened the border. Such a response to Israel’s attempt to ease the Gazans conditions has only led to a greater clarity and resolve in Israel.

Israel flag on background of sky

The whole of Israel is uniting, packing care packages for soldiers, middle aged reservists are going to bases to prepare for war. People are housing families and displaced. Everyone is girding themselves for a battle for their existence. Because as Golda Meir told President Biden 50 years ago on the eve of the Yom Kippur War, “Our secret weapon is that we have nowhere else to go”. Therefore, we will simply steel ourselves and do what needs to be done. All of Israel’s enemies are waiting for us to despair, to sink into the sea and disappear. But our unity and our love for our homeland, the fulfillment of 2000 years of dreams and prayers, is the source of our hope — a hope that cannot and will not be defeated!

We cannot leave in power an organization whose charter aims to commit genocide against Jews. It is a strange irony that Hamas, an acronym in Arabic is also the Biblical Hebrew word for terrible violence. The same violence we read in the Torah this week that leads God to despair of humanity and ask Noah to build the ark, a teaching about where such violence leads human society. As the commentator Yossi Klein Halevi wrote today, our value and duty of tikkun olam, repairing the world is social justice but also destroying evil, as the Nazis, as the Soviet Union, and as Hamas.

We pray also with full hearts for the civilians of Gaza, who are also going through a horrendous nightmare. Israel a moral imperative to prevent civil casualties in every way possible and a spiritual imperative not to be driven vengeance and hate. We pray we can be rid of Hamas once and for all so that we can – Inshallah – Be’ezrat Hashem – God willing – build a common future of peace and shared prosperity, as far off as that future seems right now. But we are the people of Joseph, a people of dreamers.

As we mourn, and deal with the shock, with too many tears of terrible loss, moral clarity has spread throughout our people and the wider world. And a strong resolve. Never again, we proclaim! We know we have to take this situation into our own hands, because others will forget.

We also resolve to do what we always do, live by our highest selves to bring a consciousness of love and peace into our world, and by our highest ideals to protect and cherish every life. We are appalled by the Islamophobic murder of a 6-year-old Palestinian American boy Wadea (Wadee) Al Fayoune, and the assault on his mother here in the Greater Chicago area. We condemn it with every part of our being.

And we pray to bring our hostages home.

Bring them Home, Bring Them Home.

Seeing the response of our communities, of everyday Jews to what has happened, sharing in our communal pain, I have never been so proud of being Jewish.

Adir Glick


Rabbi Adir Glick began his tenure at Temple Har Zion in August, 2015.