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Don’t be a Victim of the News Cycle

on Wednesday, November 21 2012. Posted by Rabbi Efrem Goldberg

We are all victims of a never-ending, relentless, rapid news cycle.   As an event unfolds we are fixated on it, unable to tear ourselves away from the latest images, posts, analysis, or videos. And yet, just a short time later, what had been an obsessive interest quickly becomes yesterday’s news.  It is replaced by the newest crisis, which occupies our twitter and Facebook feeds, takes its place as the subject of the articles we email one another, and drives the discussions at our Shabbos tables.

Consider the last three weeks alone.  First, we rightly obsessed over Hurricane Sandy.  Its horrific images, and the destruction left in its wake, tugged at our heart strings and moved us all to want to contribute in some way to relieving the suffering and pain of its victims.  By just the next week, we collectively became fixated on the presidential election.  Projections and predictions filled our inboxes in the buildup towards Election Day and euphoria or despair could be felt the next day.  Immediately after the elections, the headlines were already filled with analysis, evaluation, and pundits predicting what the results would mean for each party, for the economy, and for Israel.

And now, understandably, for the last week, we have been engrossed in Israel’s operation against Hamas and the incessant rockets raining down not only on Sderot and Ashkelon, but also on Yerushalayim and Tel Aviv as well.  Sadly, as our attention turned to Israel, I fear those outside the areas affected by the hurricane all but forgot about the victims of Sandy and their continued great needs.

As of today (Wednesday), a ceasefire has been announced.  Historically, ceasefires between Israel and her enemies have resulted in Israel ceasing while our enemies continue to fire.  We hope and pray that this ceasefire indeed brings quiet, peace and security to those who so desperately deserve it.

What will come next?  How will the headlines be filled next week and what images, stories, and news will draw our obsessive interest?  I obviously don’t know the answer, but there is one thing I do know.  We do a terrible disservice to ourselves and to others when we allow ourselves to be swept up in the news cycle that propels us forward at rapid speeds without looking back.

The victims of Sandy still desperately need our help.  In the news cycle/media-driven world, two weeks is a lifetime.  But in reality, the hurricane just happened.  There are still people with no power and those that have lost their homes or cars will have to wait a long time to replace them.

During the 8 days of Israel’s operation again Hamas, the connection we all felt both with our beloved homeland and our precious brothers and sisters there was palpable.   Israel’s precarious situation provoked truly heartfelt prayers, amazing expressions of support, and important advocacy and lobbying on her behalf.  The pro-Israel energy throughout our community served to unite and bring together many who have been divided recently over politics.

The cease fire will likely remove Israel from headlining the news and the world will move on to whatever comes next.  I am terribly concerned that the positive pro-Israel energy will dissipate and be lost as a result.  Many will return to a sense of complacency and inaction and forget the need to remain vigilant in advocating on Israel’s behalf.

We must not allow our agenda to be set by the news cycle.  We cannot become victims of an industry which creates such a vivid, vibrant, and compelling present that we neglect and forget what just happened in the immediate past.

Towards that end, I strongly encourage you to participate in two opportunities to be better informed about Israel and positioned to help.  On Thursday Night, November 29th we are proud to join Temple Beth El and co-sponsor the showing of “Follow Me: The Yoni Netanyahu Story.”  This incredible new documentary tells the story of one of Israel’s great heroes and the episode in which he lost his life.

Additionally, I urge you to sign up for our incredible one-week Seminar in Modern Israeli History.  From December 1st through December 6th we will have the privilege of hosting an amazing speaker, Moshe Ben Baruch, who will enlighten, educate, and inspire us.  Classes will be offered in the morning and evening and each will be preceded with an important short film about how we can be the best advocates for Israel.

The victims of Sandy need us, and our brothers and sisters in Israel continue to rely on us for our partnership, support, and activism.  Fight the tendency to put these significant events in your rear view mirror.  Please keep them front and center in your mind, thoughts, and prayers.

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