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What is Westport Doing to Support Israel?

Nina Katz ’26
At the Chabad shabbat ceremony, these candles were lit in memorial for the lives lost in Israel, and stayed lit for the duration of the service.


We lied. We’ve said it time after time: Never again. We vow that 9/11 will never repeat itself. That the horrors of the Holocaust will never resurface. That never again starts today. Then we say never again starts tomorrow. What is Westport going to do so that we don’t have to wait til tomorrow? What actions have we, as a community, embarked upon to stop letting global atrocities happen repeatedly? When will never again be the truth?

Westport has a large Jewish community, with strong ties to Israel. We have come together to support Israel, by holding donation drives, ceremonies and even hosting dinners for the community. Westport has united in prayer and in body to support Israel following Hamas’ invasion and the ongoing conflict.  

Westport’s BBYO (B’nai B’rith Youth Organization Inc.) chapter has come together to raise money for the Israeli Red Cross. The Israeli Red Cross is an organization that donates money to first responders who are providing treatment to those injured in Israel. The Westport chapter of BBYO is raising money by selling blue and white bracelets to kids at Hebrew school and around town. They made 80 bracelets, and are selling each for $5. Their goal is to make more than $500 to donate. In addition, BBYO raised money through a bake sale. The bake sale was at Westport’s Temple Israel on Sunday, October 15. They made a net profit of $200 that will be donated to American Friends of Magen David Adom. Due to the popularity of the bake sale, BBYO plans to hold another on Sunday, October 21. Maddie Cohen ’26, is in the Westport chapter of BBYO and has helped organize both the bracelet and bake sale fundraisers. 

We [Israel] have faced dark times before and even though this is a particularly dark time, we know that we will have better days ahead.

— Freedman

“The money will allow [the] injured to get better,” Cohen said, “and we hope [it] will overall help support those in Israel.” 

In addition, many congregations around Westport have come together to pray for and mourn the lives lost in Israel. Chabad of Westport came together on Friday, October 13, for a shabbat ceremony with a focus on Israel. Nina Katz ’26 attended the ceremony and noticed that almost every seat was filled. At the ceremony, the Chabad collected donations for the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF). Katz donated thermal socks, sharpies, hand warmers, tourniquets and other clothing items. 

“Participating as much as you can, and really just utilizing all the resources that the town’s giving us to help with Israel, is important and will make a difference” Katz said. 

Another local congregation, Temple Israel of Westport, held the largest community solidarity gathering in all of Fairfield County. The gathering, on Monday, October 9, was put together through the Jewish Federation of Greater Fairfield County. It included 20 Jewish organizations and congregations, interfaith leaders, community members and government officials. According to Temple Israel’s Rabbi Freedman, they hosted over 1,100 people on Monday night for this gathering and had another 4,000 livestream views. However, not all participants were Jewish, as this event was open to the public. Rabbi Freedman had three main messages for the gathering: to mourn those we have lost in the war thus far, to show strength in our local unified community and lastly to show hope in the commitment of the community to this cause. 

“We [Israel] have faced dark times before and even though this is a particularly dark time, we know that we will have better days ahead.” Freedman said. 

Temple Israel has also been in touch with their on-ground contacts in Israel who advised the temple to donate to organizations rather than send things to family and friends directly, as there is no assurance that the donations will make it to Israel. These organizations instead encourage people to donate money to fund their existing operations in Israel. Temple Israel has donated money to an organization that will supply Israeli civilians with medical kits and supplies. Temple Israel reached out to their congregation asking for donations. According to Rabbi Freedman, the temple has already received a significant amount of donations from congregation members. 

Students at Staples have also come together to support Israel. According to Sutton Gyselen ’26, a co-founder of Staples Jewish Culture Club, they have collaborated with BBYO and are assisting with bake sales and bracelet-making to raise money for the IDF. Furthermore, they are holding meetings for Staples students to educate them about what is going on in Israel. The Staples Jewish Culture Club have also been actively posting on their Instagram story in support of Israel as a way to spread news and awareness to teens. Thus far, they have posted inspirational quotes for those struggling and reposted several news reports. In addition, the Mitzvah club is making cards and sending them to Israeli soldiers for their November mitzvah. 

It is important to understand that part of supporting Israel is supporting our local community. Rabbi Freedman stresses the importance of supporting those in Westport who are affected by the war. 

“I think there’s some people in our congregation who are feeling isolated from friends who may be non-Jewish friends and do not understand what they’re going through,” Rabbi Freedman said. “So we are trying to make sure that everybody knows that they have support and friendship.”

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About the Contributors
Alexis Jacobs '26
Alexis Jacobs '26, Staff Writer
Staff Writer Alexis Jacobs ’26 is extremely passionate about dance and its community, which is what initially brought her to enroll in Advanced Journalism.  “I love the environment at dance and how we all support each other and grow together,” Jacobs said. “That’s why I chose to join Inklings; it’s a similar community.”  Ultimately, Jacobs’ love for writing, as well as her blooming passion for journalism, is what drove her to join Inklings.  “I really like to write,” Jacobs said. “This class gives me the freedom to write about what I’m passionate about and share my thoughts with the school.” 
Rachel Olefson ’25
Rachel Olefson ’25, Web News Editor
Web News Editor Rachel Olefson ’25 strives to build skills. From the age of two, Olefson has skied to improve and enjoy quality family time.  “[The mountain] is a place I can kind of do whatever I want,” Olefson said. “It gets me away from the stress of school.”  In the classroom, Olefson remains eager to grow. For her, Inklings is a collaborative space to strengthen her writing and graphic design expertise.    “You get to meet people that maybe you wouldn't be friends with otherwise,” Olefson said, “and work with people who have a lot of different strengths.”

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