OpinionIsrael at War

Israel’s ‘kiruv’ moment

Israel must both defeat Hamas and reconnect with God.

The families of Israeli hostages in Gaza at a Chanukah lighting ceremony in Tel Aviv, Dec. 13, 2023. Photo by Gideon Markowicz/TPS.
The families of Israeli hostages in Gaza at a Chanukah lighting ceremony in Tel Aviv, Dec. 13, 2023. Photo by Gideon Markowicz/TPS.
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Joseph Frager
Dr. Joseph Frager is a lifelong activist and physician. He is chairman of Israel advocacy for the Rabbinical Alliance of America, chairman of the executive committee of American Friends of Ateret Cohanim and executive vice president of the Israel Heritage Foundation.

The Oct. 7 Hamas massacre of innocent Jews has shaken the world. The depth and breadth of the killing, rape, torture and mutilation were unparalleled in the history of mankind according to archeologists who have made it their life’s work to study such things.

But Jews the world over have united in ways that were previously unimaginable. Even the Israeli left has had a change of heart. A poll by Israel’s Channel 12 found that at least one-third of Israelis characterize themselves as “moving to the right.” A Tel Aviv University poll found that the vast majority of Israelis are against a two-state solution—only 28.6% of Jewish Israelis support it. The number of Israelis who support peace negotiations with the Palestinian Authority has dropped to an all-time low of 24.5%. The majority of Israelis distrust the P.A., likely because it initially failed to condemn the Oct. 7 slaughter and many of its officials have justified it.

Ironically, Hamas murdered many of Israel’s best-known “peace activists,” including Vivian Silver, the founder of Women Wage Peace. As a result, many Israelis who had aligned themselves with dovish groups like Peace Now have shifted their allegiance. One resident of Kibbutz Nir Oz who participated in rallies supporting the expulsion of Jews from the 22 Jewish villages in Gaza in 2005 said he has begun to question his beliefs.

This transformation is not just political. It also has a spiritual dimension. At a Chanukah Torah scroll dedication I organized, an unaffiliated Israeli cardiologist attended because he wanted to learn about his heritage. He was seeking answers and understanding. He attributed his newfound curiosity to the events of Oct. 7.

Clearly, there has been a Jewish awakening. A rabbi called me soon after Oct. 7 and told me that this is a kiruv moment—people are coming back to Judaism and coming closer to their roots. I am beginning to see the wisdom of those words. Many are returning to the fold.

Israel must completely defeat Hamas. At the same time, it must reconnect with God.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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