ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) – Rabbi Tom Samuels of Congregation Kol Ami says he is in “absolute bewilderment” at the level of brutality and carnage in Israel after Hamas launched an unprecedented terror attack from the Gaza strip. Hamas has been designated as a terror group by the U.S. since 1997. Hamas took control of the Gaza strip in 2007. It has long called for the destruction of the Jewish State and the annihilation of the Jewish people.

“I have a lot of family who live in Israel, very close as well as extended,” said Rabbi Samuels. “Everybody I know is in bomb shelters. Their kids are being called off to the reserves.
It’s such a small country when you have 1200, 1500 people brutally murdered and thousands more injured and hundreds kidnapped, children, babies. Everybody in Israel knows somebody, directly or indirectly who is has been a victim to these atrocities.”

“Really this is not about religion. This is about whether you are on the side of humanity or on the side of absolute evil. The Hamas charter is very clear, it’s not only annihilation of the State of Israel, that’s not their goal. It’s actually to eradicate Jews from the world and that’s what’s in their charter. So, it’s not so much about Israel and Palestine. It’s really about a cabal of thugs, Islamo-fascist thugs, and the puppet master is Iran.

“What would you say to folks that want to help? They want to reach out and do something in response to what’s happening?” asked 18 News reporter Nick Dubina.

“We human beings really have no agency over anything beyond ourselves and the two-mile radius around us,” said Rabbi Samuels. So, I would say let’s start with holding each other’s hands. Metaphorically. Let’s be there for each other, love your neighbor. I’m not talking about in theory as in someone 3,000 miles away. Love your neighbor, the person who lives next door to you, the person sitting beside you on the bus in the morning. Learn to see the beauty in the person next to you in your home, at work, at the supermarket, and traffic when they’re honking at you. Come together as a community and support each other. Really that is the best thing that we can do. When we do that, then, really, everything else is possible.”

Rabbi Samuels says Congregation Kol Ami will hold at a service on Zoom at 7 p.m. Thursday for people of all faiths. For more details, visit the Congregation Kol Ami website or the Kol Ami Facebook page.

You can watch the full interview with Rabbi Tom Samuels below: