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Jewish Scholastic Press Association

Jewish Scholastic Press Association

CESJDS responds to Hamas terrorist attacks in Israel

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Over 900 Israeli civillians and soldiers have been murdered since Oct. 8.

At around 6:30 a.m. local time on Saturday, Oct. 7, Israelis woke up to the sound of sirens blaring in the streets. Thousands of missiles, launched from Gaza, rained down on cities in southern and central Israel, destroying entire kibbutzim and residential areas. Meanwhile, terrorists from Gaza entered Israel by land, air and sea in an action called “Operation Al-Aqsa Flood.”

According to AP News, since the war began, over 900 civillians and soldiers have been murdered, 11 of them American citizens, thousands have been wounded and over 130 people have been kidnapped by Hamas terrorists.

Despite the 6,000 mile geographical difference, the situation in Israel is deeply personal for many CESJDS students. According to Head of School Rabbi Mitchel Malkus’s email to the school community about the war, there are 56 students who have family members serving the State of Israel at the Israeli Embassy. Many others have family members and friends who live in Israel.

“My grandparents were hiding in their safe room for about 12 hours without food and water until they were rescued by Israeli forces,” Israeli senior Shiri Cohen said. “There were about nine terrorists in their Kibbutz who were shooting people regardless of who they were. My father’s childhood friend was murdered, and that person’s brother and mother were kidnapped and brought into the Gaza Strip. Entire families, including the mother, father, children and elderly were all murdered. And this was all happening in my grandparents’ kibbutz like many others.”

In his email to the school community, Malkus said that he is in contact with local security agencies, the Israeli Embassy’s security department and the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington security desk, to ensure that the school is aware of any potential security threats as a result of the war. Director of Security and Transportation Shay Halevi says that there are no specific threats to the school or the community at this point.

JDS is committed to supporting families, faculty and the State of Israel in this difficult time. Students were asked to wear blue and white to school today to show their unity and support for Israel. Before Zman Kodesh, the entire building gathered in the gym for a few prayers and concluded with the singing of Israel’s national anthem, Hatikva. Additionally, the Center for Health and Wellness was open all day in case students were in need of additional support.

During lunch and CT, Jewish History Department Chair Dan Rosenthal led an optional informational session for students about the war in Israel. The session was widely attended by both students and faculty members.

“I really liked hearing everyone’s questions about it,” senior Daniel Schlactus said. “People were being really thoughtful about it, and we had a very meaningful conversation.”

Almost a dozen JDS alumni are currently in Israel on gap year programs. Among them is Matan Silverberg (‘23), who is learning at Yeshivat Orayta in the old city of Jerusalem, one of the cities targeted by the rockets.

“A siren went off during Davening, everyone went to the bomb shelter, and it was definitely scary,” Silverberg said. “Davening continued without anymore hiccups, and we had absolutely no idea about the severity of it because no one was on their phones for Shabbat.”

Silverberg says he is safe in the Old City, believing it to be one of the safest areas in the country during the war due to its proximity to the holy sites. As he stays at Yeshivat Orayta, praying for Israel’s continued success, Silverberg hopes that his community back home in America will continue to support those who need it.

“I was really blessed to get a lot of texts from people, which made me feel great,” Silverberg said. “It’s important that this wave of support be continued, and that people keep checking in on their friends and family in Israel.”

**Disclaimer: This piece was last edited on October 9, 2023. Events are constantly changing in Israel and we encourage you to update yourselves as new information is released.


This story was originally published in The Lion’s Tale on October 9, 2023

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