D’var Torah delivered by our Shlichim, Shanie and Alon Dotan, on Friday, October 16, 2015

Hard times are coming for the people of Israel; many people around the globe are watching this recent wave of aggression, searching for the right message, searching for the truth. And what is the truth? What is the right message? How should I act? What should I do?

We see in the media the Palestinian leadership, the Arab leadership and the Israeli leadership blaming each other for inciting this wave of violence. We see in the media religious figures calling for violence, screaming to their viewers’ simple, narrow messages. We look at the social media and we shiver when we see these horrible images.

Our message is different; our message is calm, rational and complex, a message we feel that gives respect to our Jewish tradition and values, a message that gives respect to the intellect of those who hear us.

So who is the enemy? When you hear of a 13 year old Arab boy, an Israeli citizen, that took a knife and went out stabbing Jews, you feel confused. When you hear from the Palestinian PM that this kid was “shot in cold blood” (he said “executed” in Arabic) and then you see that same kid sitting in an Israeli hospital with not a single bullet shot at him, you get confused. When an Arab woman, also an Israeli citizen, a young mother with a Master’s degree decides to take a knife and stab Jews in the street, you get confused.   The reality is complex, it is confusing and it makes us think irrational thoughts – we want simple truths, we want a simple enemy, an enemy we can identify. So it becomes very simple for us to say – the Muslims are all bad, they all want us dead or out of our land. This is not our way, we are not like our enemies we respect other beliefs and lives.

“Love the stranger; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” “וַאֲהַבְתֶּם, אֶתהַגֵּרכִּיגֵרִים הֱיִיתֶם, בְּאֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם. “

Who is under attack? Is it the state of Israel? Is it all Jews? All Israelis? We feel it is a good time to remind ourselves an old lesson, a lesson that Martin Niemöller, a protestant priest once wrote about:

“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out – Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out – Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out – Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me – and there was no one left to speak for me.”

We are all under attack, all people from all countries and all beliefs are under attack. They don’t feel it now but it is not an Israeli problem, it is not anti-Semitism, it is pure hate for the “other”. So if you feel that there is a place for others to live in this world, you should feel under attack. This is why it is our obligation to stand up and defend ourselves – all people that believe in telling the truth and freedom of speech and belief.

What should we do? The first step would be to acknowledge the fact that the media is not the best medium for discovering the truth; we should find ways to get closer to the truth by talking to a family member in Israel or inviting an Israeli figure to talk about the situation. The second step would be to take action, and when we say take action we understand that it is very personal. An action can be a conversation between family members during dinner and sharing feelings and thoughts. Action is to publish your thoughts and showing your support in the social media. An action is to fight the lies that people hear in the media and on the streets, for example – they just put out a huge picture of a Palestinian kid bleeding in front of the Concordia building – this is a very distorted way to say that Israel is an aggressive “child killing” country. An action is the fulfillment of your commitment to the ideas you believe in, and showing your support can come in the form of words – through the media, energy and time – through volunteerism and resources – by supporting Federation CJA. There are a lot of things we can do, as long as we don’t sit aside in silence, we take part in the defense of the free world, and we act according to our Jewish tradition and values.

We hope and pray for peaceful days, we believe in life. זכרנו לחיים, מלך חפץ בחיים, וכתבנו בספר החיים, למענך אלוקים חיים”

“Remember us for life, king who desires life, and write us in the book of life, for you god of life”

Short bio:

Shanie Ora-Dotan is serving as the Director of Federation CJA’s Israel Engagement Initiative. She and her husband, Alon Dotan, are in Montreal for three years, with their children, Yoav and Ayelet. Alon is a Community Shaliach for Federation CJA. Together, Shanie and Alon will be working to build a “living bridge” between the Montreal Jewish community and Israel.

Both Shanie and Alon were born and raised in Beersheva and both earned degrees in Policy and Management of Education from Ben Gurion University.

Alon is an experiential educator and manager focused on international exchange and leadership development. After his military service in the Israeli Special Forces, Alon worked as a coordinator in the “Israeli Scouts” movement. He then spent four years as a political and social leader while a student at Ben-Gurion University. He served in various roles and ended up as the vice president of the student government.

Shanie began dedicating her life to education and youth leadership programs as a teenager when she received leadership opportunities as an educator and Shlicha for the “Israeli Scouts.” She then decided to give others the same opportunities as a Course Commander and Operation Officer in the Sar-El unit as part of her military service, creating connections with people in the Diaspora and representing Israel.

Both Shanie and Alon have been involved with the Diller Teen Fellows program, serving as alumni engagement coordinators, providing guidance and support to ten Diller coordinators and 40 junior staff members throughout Israel, and spearheading the development of a Gap Year program for Diller program graduates.

They are both thrilled to be serving in Montreal for the next three years. You can reach them at Federation: Shanie.Dotan@federationcja.org and Alon.Dotan@federationcja.org.