Yom Kippur War’s 40th anniversary

This week marks the 40th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War. Though it was fought on Oct. 6-25, 1973, the war is commemorated in Israel on its corresponding date during the high holidays. While the long-term consequences of the conflict are often overshadowed by those of the 1967 war, in which Israel took control of the Golan Heights, the West Bank and Gaza — territories that have been at the center of Israeli-Arab peace negotiations for decades — the Yom Kippur War has also had long-term impact.

For Diaspora Jewry, the war expanded its capacity to help Israel meet its needs in times of distress. As Moshe Rivlin, director general of the Jewish Agency, told JTA after the war:

We used to think that the response of the diaspora in 1967 had been the limit of what the diaspora could do in its partnership with Israel. But we were wrong. It is already clear today that in terms of contributions towards meeting the human needs of Israel while she was engaged with the war, and is now engaged in the aftermath, the diaspora has done three times better than in 1967. The target in 1967 was $400 million the target now is $1.25 billion and we are sure that this target will be met.

Indeed, many organizations, including the United Jewish Appeal, recorded unparalleled donations during and after the war.
One scholar went further and argued the war changed the relationship between the Diaspora and Israel. Leon Dulzin, acting chairman of the World Zionist Executive, argued that the Yom Kippur War resulted in “the Zionization” of Diaspora Jewry. “The State of Israel is now an integral and indivisible part of the wider Jewish identity. Consciousness that Israel and world Jewry are parts of the same nation now pervades the widest circles of diaspora Jewry,” Dulzin said.
The war also resulted in calls for religious revival in many Jewish communities. In November 1973 the Rabbinical Advisory Council of the United Jewish Appeal adopted a resolution declaring Nov. 4 “Yom Kippur Sheni,” a second Yom Kippur. The day included special prayers from the Yom Kippur liturgy, the blowing of the shofar and the recitation of Yizkor for those who eied in the war.
In December 1973, Agudath Israel of America sent out a call to world Jewry ”for a mass Torah revival in the aftermath of the Yom Kippur War.” Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, head of the organization’s Council of Torah Sages and dean of the Mesivta Tifereth Jerusalem in New York, declared: “No Jew, wherever he is, can pretend to be untouched by events in Israel–or anywhere, for that matter.”
In the New York area, five synagogues and one Jewish Center were destroyed by arson a month after the start of the Yom Kippur War.
For Israel, the war resulted in increased foreign interest in their military weaponry, specifically for the Gabriel missile, which sank 13 Russian-built boats.

Joe Winkler is a contributing writer to JTA.

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