Photo Credit: Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu's Facebook page
Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu

The Chief Rabbi of Tzefat, Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, is calling on Israelis to “embrace, support and strengthen” the Jews of the Diaspora, and particularly those in countries severely affected by the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

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It’s an appeal the rabbi has made over the past recent months, according to a Hebrew-language report that appeared this weekend in the Israeli Makor Rishon newspaper, written by journalist Zvika Klein.

In a statement entitled ‘A Good Word for Our Diaspora Brethren’ disseminated to other rabbis and to the general public, Rabbi Eliyahu wrote: “From the 1960s until this day, there has been no time that our brethren in the Diaspora did not help the State of Israel. There is no establishment that was built without their aid. There is no military unit that was not supported by them. In every school, studio, and locality we find their contributions. Every hospital or university we can see their generous support.”

Now, he said, Diaspora Jews are in distress. “Funeral homes are full in the United States, France, England, Spain, in South and Central American and elsewhere. Hundreds of thousands have lost their loved ones, the coronavirus is still spreading, hospitals are full.

“All this, in addition to the hundreds of thousands who have lost their jobs and their livelihoods.”

The rabbi went on to say it is “imperative to embrace them at this difficult time. Our sages say that a good word is stronger than monetary support,” he said. “The giver is ‘just’ to his friend, and thus is blessed with six blessings. And the conciliator, he is blessed with 11 blessings.”

Nowadays (with technology) it is easier to stay connected and give someone a ‘virtual’ hug,” Rabbi Eliyahu added. Among his recommendations:

  • Make a list of overseas contacts – family or friends – and write them something in Hebrew if they know the language. If not, better to write in their language.
  • Prayers can be arranged, photographed in a moment or two and sent to a friend.

“No doubt you can produce more and more ideas and activities to show your embrace and love of your fellow Jew,” the rabbi wrote.

“Now is the time. Don’t miss it. Now is the time to encourage and strengthen them!”

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.