Passover Message of Strength and Solidarity from JFNA

Dear Friends,

As we gather to celebrate Passover, it is impossible not to be mindful of how unsettled our community is right now.

We begin, of course, with our hostages still held in captivity by Hamas. Passover marks the beginning of their 200th day of captivity. We cannot truly celebrate this holiday of freedom while we know that our fellow Jews are not free. We cry to the heavens and to the world for their immediate, unconditional release. 

Then our minds and hearts go to the brave soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces, who will not be with their families but rather will be defending us all so that we can celebrate in freedom. May they know and understand how proud and grateful we are for them.

To all the families who will celebrate without a loved one lost on October 7th, or in the fighting since, we share in their pain and in their mourning, and we wrap them in love.

To the families in Israel who are not able to be in their homes, whether in the south or evacuated from the north, we know how difficult this time is, and we look forward to helping them celebrate back at their own tables soon.

And to the students in America, on college campuses and elsewhere, who are victims of increasingly strident and threatening antisemitism, we will bring all our leadership and relationships to bear to ensure that the perpetrators are punished and that our higher education and government officials understand how to restore safety, civility, and decorum to our society. 

But there are also signs of progress and hope.

Israel’s military efforts in Gaza have reduced the security threats from Hamas, and the miraculous response to the Iranian missiles remains in the front of our minds. We are grateful to the United States and all the allies of freedom who helped defend Israel against this extraordinary attack.

This week, the United States House of Representatives overcame serious political divisions to pass legislation containing both $14B in emergency military aid and $400M in additional funding for the Nonprofit Security Grant Program. While the bill still awaits approval by the Senate, it is expected to pass this week, maybe even on the First Day of Passover. This strong, bipartisan agreement is welcome for the assistance it provides and for the message it sends both to America and Israel’s enemies and to our community. 

And 30 United States Senators—15 Republicans, 14 Democrats and one Independent—introduced the latest version of the Antisemitism Awareness Act this week. This bill, on which Federations have led the fight, would make the IHRA definition of antisemitism the law of the land for college campuses. This is a powerful move that would add significant heft to efforts to fight antisemitism across the board.

We couldn’t be prouder of all the Federation leaders who have come to Washington repeatedly, written, and called their members of Congress, and visited them in their home offices to advocate on all these issues. Your dedication and persistence is showing results, as is your hard work in your city councils, state legislatures, school boards, and more. Once again we are reminded why Federations are the indispensable element of community response and organization.

Our ongoing Israel Emergency Campaign—over $800 million and counting—continues to reflect our communities’ generosity and commitment to Israel’s care and rebuilding. The over $400M that has been deployed has already made, in every sector of Israeli society, a difference greater than we could have even imagined. Thank you for stepping forward in Israel’s hour of need.

And so we come to our Seder, where we will once again recite the words “in every generation, each Jew should regard themselves as if we personally went out of Egypt.” We are truly standing where our predecessors stood, in critical positions of communal responsibility, and we are responding as generations have before us and, G-d willing, generations to follow us will as well when called upon. 

The Torah refers to the night of the exodus from Egypt as leyl shimurima night of vigil, or a night to be on guard. The word shimurim comes from the same word as shomer, as in shomer yisrael, the guardians of Israel. To all the guardians of Israel on this Pesach 5784—the soldiers, the care workers, the advocates, the donors, and more, we wish you a Chag Kasher v’Sameach. Happy Passover!


Julie Platt, Chair
Eric Fingerhut, President and CEO
Jewish Federations of North America


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