North Shore Rabbis Weigh in On Middle East Crisis

About 500 people gathered at Congregation Shirat Hayam in Swampscott on Sunday night to pray, sing and show support for Israel, said Rabbi Yossi Lipsker of Chabad Lubavitch of the North Shore.


Hundreds of Swampscott and Marblehead residents gathered Sunday night at Congregation Shirat Hayam in Swampscott to talk, sing songs of hope and pray.

Monday night in Boston, Jewish and non-Jewish residents rallied to support Israel during the unfolding Middle East crisis. 

In response to persistent rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip into Southern Israel — hundreds in the past several days — Israel has bombed targets from where the missile are being fired in Gaza. 

Civilians have been killed in Southern Israel and in Gaza, though many more have died in Gaza, according to news reports.

It remains to be seen what will happen next.

We asked two local rabbis, one from Swampscott and one from Marblehead, to weigh in on the topic — tell us what their concerns are and what they have heard from their North Shore congregants.

We also asked: what is the best thing that can happen?

In separate interviews, Rabbi Yossi Lipsker of Chabad Lubavitch of the North Shore in Swampscott and Rabbi David J. Meyer of Temple Emanu-El in Marblehead said they and others will continue to support Israel's right to defend itself from attacks targeting its civilian populations.

The rocket attacks, reportedly fired from cover sites such as schools and hospitals in Gaza, are coming from Hammas, a terrorist organization supplied by Iran, they said.

Israelis are living under fire, and actually have mobile phone apps telling them how much time they have to get to a bomb shelter, said Rabbi Lipsker.

"It’s absurd that in today’s day and age that innocent Israeli civilians — women and children — are running to bomb shelters," he said. "People can't live like this."

The rabbis said that the message from Sunday night's gathering at Shirat Hayam was one of unity and clarity, expressing support for Israel and its right to defend itself.

Many of those who were at the gathering have family or friends in Israel or have visited the country.

Rabbi Meyer said it is necessary for Israel to strike back but nobody is rejoicing over the deaths suffered by Palestinian civilians.

The Hammas terror attacks is or should be a concern to anyone in a free and Democratic country, he said.

As far as the best outcome goes, Rabbi Lipsker said it would be "for terrorist organizations like Hammas to accept the reality that Israel is here to stay and Israel is not going anywhere."

Rabbi Meyer had a two-fold answer.

One would be the dismantling of Hammas's ability to release unprovoked attacks. 

President Obama and the United States have stood up for Israel's right to defend itself, he said.

Now it is up to the international community to recognize this, he said.


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