Local updates connected to the Israel-Hamas war

By Marshall Weiss, The Dayton Jewish Observer

Area law enforcement keeps watchful eye on potential threats

Members of the Jewish community received a briefing about the current threat landscape, actions to protect the Jewish community, what the Jewish community can do to help the FBI and local law enforcement, and what the Jewish community can do to protect itself.

The Jewish Federation hosted the security town hall meeting Nov. 15 at the Boonshoft Center for Jewish Culture and Education in Centerville, led by J. William Rivers, FBI special agent in charge of the Cincinnati field office; Michael Herwig, FBI supervisory special agent; and Centerville Police Chief Matt Brown.

Also on the panel were FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force Officer Charles Balaj, FBI Assistant Special Agent in Charge Zrinka Dilber, FBI Supervisory Special Agent Andrew Brandt, Dayton Police Major Jason Hall, and retired Centerville Police Officer John Davis.

The panelists noted the surge in antisemitism across the United States since the Hamas massacre of Oct. 7, described how their agencies work together, confirmed there were no known imminent threats against the local Jewish community, and urged all present to be vigilant.

Israel Emergency Campaign nears $856,000 goal

Jewish Federation CEO Cathy Gardner announced Nov. 16 that its Israel Emergency Campaign has raised $796,357 toward its goal of $856,000. Jewish Federations of North America assigned this dollar goal based on the Dayton area’s estimated Jewish population and per capita giving to the Federation’s Annual Campaign.

Along with online giving to the Israel Emergency Campaign, the Federation raised $603,418 Oct. 30 at a small gathering of major donors, and $82,000 at a community caucus event for Israel Nov. 12.

To date, the JFNA system has raised more than $659 million and has allocated close to $200 million.

“We have almost met our goal, but the needs will continue long into the future,” Dayton’s Gardner said. “JFNA will continue to allocate the dollars to provide lifeline services, mental health and trauma relief, economic relief and rescue, and resources for community resilience and rebuilding.”

To donate to the Israel Emergency Campaign, click here.

Jewish Family Services offers emotional wellness Zoom sessions Mondays at noon

Tara Feiner, executive director of Jewish Family Services, has launched Let’s Talk sessions via Zoom from noon to 12:45 p.m., Mondays through March 25 (except Dec. 25 and Jan. 1).

These drop-in sessions with JFS staff give participants the opportunity to share their emotional struggles, fears, and concerns.

“Since the Oct. 7 massacre in Israel and the taking of hostages, the war, and the subsequent increase in antisemitism, many of us are struggling to process these difficult and emotional events,” Feiner said. “This is our way to provide you with a safe, nonjudgmental, confidential space to be heard and to process complicated emotions.”

Register for Let’s Talk at jarchie@jfgd.net.

Image on social media promoting the Islamic Council of Dayton’s Nov. 10 rally.

Dayton city commissioner offers prayer at Islamic Council of Dayton’s ‘Stop the Genocide’ peace rally

“Stop the genocide!!! Ceasefire now!!!” was how the Islamic Council of Dayton’s Nov. 10 peace rally at Dayton’s Courthouse Square was billed online. More than 100 people showed up to the afternoon rally, holding signs and chanting “Free Palestine” and “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” Signs also referred to Israel’s military operations in Gaza as genocide.

Following several speakers who accused Israel of committing genocide in Gaza — including two who said they are Jewish — Dayton City Commissioner Darryl Fairchild, also a United Methodist pastor, acknowledged the “complexity, pain, and suffering of the situation.” He then recited a Christian prayer for peace, “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,” attributed to St. Francis of Assisi.

Dayton City Commissioner Darryl Fairchild, also a pastor, prepares to offer a prayer at the Islamic Council of Dayton’s ‘Stop the genocide!!! Ceasefire now!!!’ peace rally at Dayton’s Courthouse Square, Nov. 10.

In an interview with The Observer after his prayer, Fairchild said he was not aware the rally had been framed as “Stop the genocide.”

“I was asked to come and pray for peace. And so, I came to pray for peace,” he said.

When asked if he thought Israel is committing genocide against the citizens of Gaza, Fairchild said, “I shrink in the face of some of these questions. It’s not my place to say that. I know there’s a lot of pain, and I want to stand in solidarity with Jews, Christians, Muslims in that part of the world who are suffering.”

He added that on the question of genocide, “I haven’t thought it through all the way.”

Participants at the Islamic Council of Dayton’s Nov. 10 rally.

A backgrounder distributed by the Anti-Defamation League Oct. 25 about accusations that Israel is committing genocide in Gaza states that “while one may oppose and even condemn particular Israeli policies or actions with regard to Palestinians or Israel’s Arab citizens, the fact remains that in no way has Israel engaged in any action with the intent to exterminate, in whole or in part, the Palestinian people.”

Greenville ministers stand with Israel

The Greater Greenville Ministerial Association signed a letter Oct. 18 in support of Israel and Jews around the world in the wake of the Oct. 7 massacre and the Israel-Hamas war.

“Antisemitism is rife around the world,” the letter states. “It is evident here in the country. We, the members of GGMA stand with our Jewish brothers and sisters and lift them up in prayer at this time in their hour of suffering, death, and destruction. May the God of Abraham hear our prayers for a swift end to this conflict and that peace will once again become reality in the Holy Land. Until that day, let it be known that the members of the GGMA stand with Israel in their fight for freedom and the right to live in peace as a nation.”

The letter was drafted by the Rev. Peter B. Menke, a retired pastor with Greenville’s St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church. Menke is chair of the Darke County Holocaust Memorial Committee.

To read the complete December 2023 Dayton Jewish Observer, click here.

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