The fact is, despite the hardships and the concern about Israel and growing antisemitism on college campuses around the world, our communities are flourishing and increasing in strength with each passing year.

Next week, interestingly enough, the New York Jewish community will host three important dinners, some of a national stature, and one a bit more local, but all have vital important implications for the ongoing situation in Israel.

What is different this time is that on some level, we all feel that we have an important stake in this war with Hamas and the battle against Jew-hatred, which is legion and seems to be growing.

Rabbi Yechezkel Freundlich, Rav of Congregation Beth Sholom in Lawrence, was in our office the other day with shul President Bruce Schneider to discuss the uniqueness of the shul’s 71st Anniversary dinner, which is taking place on June 4 in the shul’s finely appointed ballroom.

Beth Sholom is the longest standing Orthodox shul in the Five Towns and for this year’s annual event, they have struck an appropriate and well-tuned theme that reflects the news of the day. And that is paying tribute to “The Heroes Among Us,” which refers to the shul members who have family who have served or are currently serving in the Israel Defense Forces.

The conversation with Rabbi Freundlich and Mr. Schneider touched on the very pervasive nature of the current war in Gaza and how it has touched just about every Jewish community in the world. While it’s not necessary to point out that we are not in uniform nor on the front lines of the battle, the reality is that the war has seeped into our lives on multiple levels.

So, while most of us reading this have not served in the Israeli Defense Forces, there are families in our communities, whether in the Five Towns, New Jersey, or in South Florida, who have relatives who have served and continue to serve, with many having spent time in Gaza.

There’s one family here in the Five Towns who have three children currently serving on various levels in the IDF, and those children are Max, Sam, and Celia Cohen, who, along with others, will be guests at the Beth Sholom dinner.

In fact, the history of those who are connected to CBS (Congregation Beth Shalom) who have served in the IDF dates back to the 1950s and 1960s. So, you can see there is a thread of service that connects our communities. It’s no longer or perhaps never has been a matter of communities separated by an ocean. The current situation in Gaza with Hamas, and the escalating conflict with Hezbollah in Lebanon, in addition to the rising antisemitism in places like Spain, Norway, and Ireland, are constant reminders of the upcoming challenges we might be facing here in the United States.

And on June 4th in Lawrence, the CBS dinner will be making that point loud and clear. We are all in this together. Israel’s fight is our fight and their ultimate victory will be our victory.

So, while June 4th is an important night on our community calendar, it’s also a very busy one with at least two other very special events taking place. One is the United Hatzalah of Israel, which will be held at Cipriani’s on Wall Street, and the other is the annual Ateret Kohanim dinner at the Woodmere Club in the Five Towns.

Both of these groups are staples on our calendars. It’s just too bad they take place on the same night and in two entirely different locations: one in lower Manhattan and the other in the Five Towns. With traffic being what it is in New York, it’s an arduous task to try to make both events.

In the city at the United Hatzalah gala, the honorees are Phyllis and Sidney Bresler of the Schattner Foundation, and the evening’s chairs are Allison and Howard Lutnick. The work that United Hatzalah does in Israel is unparalleled. Their innovative ambucycles have cut emergency response times in many cases to just about 90 seconds. United Hatzalah, with thousands of both Jewish and Muslim first responders, brings out the best in Israel’s society and demonstrates an aspect of how peace and co-existence can look someday.

The Emcee at the Hatzalah dinner will be actor Michael Rapaport, a one-time Hollywood left-wing personality who became, after October 7, a right-wing, pro-Bibi, anti-Hamas activist and one of the few Hollywood personalities who is not afraid to speak out for Israel as a Jew.

Rapaport spent the last few months calling out Jewish Hollywood personalities for not speaking out about the plight of the hostages and the victims of the Hamas terrorists that were killed on October 7.

That same night, American Friends of Ateret Kohanim will mark their annual celebration of Yom Yerushalayim with the involvement and recognition of some outstanding personalities. Among them are 77 WABC radio host Sid Rosenberg, who is on the radio every day, five days a week, and since October 7th and his first trip to Israel in January, he has become the greatest advocate and spokesperson for the rightness of the Israeli position in the war.

At the same time, he is leading the charge for the re-election of Donald Trump in November. Rosenberg was expounding the other day and he will probably speak about it at the dinner next week, about how he was not invited to the Celebrate Israel Parade on June 2nd, even though he is one of the most high-profile spokespeople for the defense of Israel.

If that is accurate, one has to wonder what the Israel Day Parade is really about. Sid Rosenberg points out that the most promoted personality identified with the Israel parade this year is Senator Chuck Schumer, who as you can imagine considering his criticisms of Israel on the Senate floor this year, would not ordinarily be welcomed at any of these events.

So, there’s a war in Israel as we all know. Still, there is a great deal to be grateful for. But also true to Jewish life, there is a great deal to disagree on as well. Let’s hope the war in Gaza ends soon and there will be peace both there and here.

Read more of Larry Gordon’s articles at 5TJT.com. Follow 5 Towns Jewish Times on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for updates and live videos. Comments, questions, and suggestions are welcome at 5TJT.com and on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

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