The Spirit of Purpose

Federation mourns the two Israelis killed in a terrorist attack earlier today in southern Israel near Bnei Re’em and prays for the quick recovery of those wounded. May their memories be for a blessing.


Two weeks ago, when I wrote about my upcoming mission to Israel alongside colleagues and communal leaders from across Greater Washington, I was not sure what I would see after months of war and a situation growing more complex by the day. To what degree would we witness widespread sadness or even empty streets as Israelis continued to live with the aftermath of the October 7th attack?

And while we did witness some of those scenarios, as the repercussions of October 7th continue to resonate throughout the country, we also experienced an Israel – as Robin Hettleman Weinberg, President of The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, put it – running on “the spirit of purpose.”

We saw Israelis working together from all walks of life with a shared responsibility seeking to address the challenges and traumas arising from the October 7th attack and the war with Hamas. We spoke to countless individuals who changed jobs, launched new initiatives, and volunteered to do whatever was necessary in this critical moment. When we visited the many organizations supported by your generous donations to Federation’s Israel Crisis Relief Fund, we met both long-running professionals and many new people who felt compelled to step up and help those in need, all while simultaneously addressing the significant divisions that existed within Israel before October 7th.

As Robin and I discussed recently, this includes organizations such as Federation grantee Brothers and Sisters for Israel, where over 150,000 volunteers from across Israeli society have mobilized to help; and Merchav Marpe (Healing Space), a newly developed organization for the people facing significant trauma after October 7th. These are just two of the organizations our community has helped fund that are making a deep impact throughout Israel. I encourage you to read through what you have helped fund to date.

You can also watch my conversation with Robin about our recent mission below.

At the same time, Israelis continue to struggle with significant challenges. Questions about how to bring home the hostages, the ongoing fighting to eliminate Hamas, a potential war with Hezbollah, and more are weighing on Israelis every single day. These are questions with no easy answers.

There are also many questions that we must ask ourselves in this moment. What is our role in supporting Israel and Israelis in these challenging times? How do we partner with them to help support Israeli society for the long-term as well as their efforts to come together in the face of the significant internal and external threats? How do we deepen the relationship between American Jews and Israelis that is so critical for our collective vibrancy? And, finally, how do we leverage Israeli’s “spirit of purpose” in this moment to strengthen Israel and the Jewish people?

Our experiences on this mission have reinforced our belief in the resilience of Israelis and the importance of our deep relationship with Israel and Israelis, not just in times of crisis, but in building a stronger Jewish future.

I am proud of and thankful for our community’s ongoing commitment to Israel in their ongoing fight against Hamas and to assisting Israelis in need as the conflict continues to unfold. We must continue to strengthen our relationships and partnership and focus on a better future ahead. I know that this is possible.

Thank you for all you continue to do for our community, Israel, and the Jewish people.

Shabbat Shalom,

Gil Preuss
CEO, The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington