What binds Jews together is stronger than our disagreements


The horrific and fast-moving events in Israel and the Gaza Strip pose a unique challenge for a small, monthly Jewish newspaper in Rhode Island: How do you accurately show what’s happening there and also capture the multifaceted reactions here?

Times like these make it very hard to keep our community informed – you even see major news agencies struggle to cover the story in a balanced way using resources that we can only dream of. What we cover and how we cover it, to make it relevant to our community, has been a topic of discussion since the news of the Hamas attacks on Oct. 7.

How these events are covered matters.

You can check out the feed from several Israeli newspapers on our website, JewishRhody.org. The latest stories appear on the homepage and there’s a link to the rest of the feed.

We are also trying to bring you many points of view and slices of life from your fellow community members. We are trying to cover how the members of our Rhode Island Jewish community are acting and reacting.

We are reaching out to those we know in the community and in Israel. And you have reached out to us. It’s a partnership to give voice to events that are rocking Israel and our local community.

I am thankful for the contributors who have reached out to offer opinions that you’ll read about in these pages. They felt it was important for you to understand their point of view, so they wrote for the paper.

And we have a writer from Israel, whom you may remember from her years at the Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island. Elanah Oberg tells us about a day in her life in Jerusalem with her young children.

We hope to bring you more views from Israel with Rhode Island connections in future issues.

And we will do a more thorough exploration of some of the more troubling national issues at our local level, like antisemitism on college campuses.

These are stressful times. We’re all now monitoring events in Israel, waiting to learn about the status of the hostages, the safety of Israeli troops entering Gaza, reactions to Israel’s counteroffensive, the rockets that continue to fall on Israeli communities, the rising toll of civilian deaths and more.

I watch a variety of broadcast media and read reports from many sources to keep up to date. And then I read the criticisms of all those reports to try to figure out what to believe.

I cover events here in Rhode Island when I can, but I can’t cover them all, and I fear missing stories that the community needs to hear. It can take a toll on your mental health. Sometimes I have to force myself to stop thinking about it. I need a break to focus on what’s happening in my own life and to look forward to more positive things ahead.

We are mindful of the fact that there are other activities happening in the Jewish community, and the wider community, and we all need to create a balance between our daily lives and developments in Israel. There are birthdays and weddings and community events and Thanksgiving and Hanukkah ahead, as life continues as close to normal as possible.

If there is a positive lesson in all this, I hope it is that we realize that every member of our community is sharing in this tragedy. We are experiencing this – suffering through this – together. All of us.

I hope this issue of Jewish Rhode Island reminds our community that even though our views on many details, from Israel’s preparedness to its response, may vary widely, what binds us together is strong and more important than how we disagree. We should not let our disagreements tear us apart. We are Jews. We are Americans. We support the existence of Israel. And we’re all struggling to make sense of it all.

Fran Ostendorf

Israel, Rhode Island, Editor, coverage