Dear Friends,
You know the facts. On October 7 th , 2023, multiple communities in Southern Israel were attacked by
Hamas terrorists. A savage massacre in these communities unfolded. At the same time, a barrage of
rockets from the Gaza Strip was fired on Israel. Today Israel mourns over 1,400 dead, with over 4,000
people wounded and more than 200 in captivity.
Israel is a small country and this tragedy has touched each one of us on a personal level. We are
mourning the immense loss of lives, and are sharing in the pain of the families whose loved ones are
still missing or held hostage. As a society, Israel is experiencing deep trauma. Yet we know that our
resilience is stronger than despair.
We have ample history of resilience. The Leo Baeck Institute was founded to lead the way in research
on German-speaking Jewry. This community is no stranger to loss, yet its desire to go on living has
always been stronger than any trauma. Multiple volumes held in our library in Jerusalem deal with
collective tragedies, escape, suffering and pain – yet also with reconstruction, resurrection and
recovery. These and other foundational texts of the Jewish people testify not only to the low points in
our collective history, but rather to collective resilience, to the ability of the people to get up back on
its feet and restore their lives.
Isi Shemesh, our long-standing colleague who edits the LBI Jerusalem publications in Hebrew, lives in
Kibbutz Magen close to the Gaza border. He is the head of Magen’s emergency response team, entirely
comprised of volunteers. Isi and his neighbors stood against the terrorists on October 7 th . They lost one
of their men, while two others sustained grave injuries. Another man was kidnapped and is currently
being held hostage in Gaza. Under fire, Isi and his team organized an emergency evacuation of kibbutz
residents, all of whom remained unscathed. Isi has a message for us, and for you: “We will rebuild
what was destroyed, physically and mentally. And we will carry on. Be strong.”
This is the resilience of Israel. This is the resilience of the Jewish people.
The Leo Baeck Institute Jerusalem, with your help, will now extend a hand to those in Israel who need
it the most – residents of the country’s south. We will be conducting an emergency campaign to
benefit the people of Kibbutz Magen and the Sderot Resilience Center that provides psychological help
in Israel’s South, 24/7.
Thank you for your support. Together, we will carry on. And we will stay strong.
With gratitude,

Dr. Irene Aue-Ben-David, Director of the LBI Jerusalem

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