Dear President Biden,
When a retired President Truman visited my grandfather’s synagogue in Pittsburgh, my grandfather, Rabbi Baruch Poupko, asked him: “Despite all the internal and external pressure you faced, why did you support the establishment of a Jewish state in Israel?”
Truman went on to tell the packed synagogue in Squill Hill, Pittsburgh: “I knew the Jewish people are a people of eternity, and I wanted to have a share in this eternity.”
President Biden, you, too, will forever have an honorable and eternal place in the history books of the Jewish people and of the United States. When Israel faced the most cruel and devastating attack on its civilians in its entire history, you spoke loud and clear. Reading the Hebrew press from the early days after the attack, from across the political spectrum, Israelis saw in your words and leadership a profound source of solace, comfort, and optimism. In Israel’s darkest time, you shined like a beacon of light. Inspiring words, a moral clarity, and a vision forward–all of which are important, but most importantly, they were backed by action.
You ordered a US aircraft carrier and other strong deterrents to be strategically placed so that America’s promises were backed with unwavering support. You reminded the world of the horrors of the Holocaust and that those must never be repeated.
In 1945, Life Magazine featured a picture of my great grandfather, Rabbi Eliezer Poupko from Philadelphia, standing helplessly outside the White House, pleading on behalf of millions of stateless Jewish refugees. He was standing with other Rabbis, begging to be heard. All they asked was for the Jewish people to have a place where they, too can live lives free of violence and hate. They were not heard. Yet, you heard the Jewish people’s call.
Life Magazine, 1945.
My great-grandfather Rabbi Eliezer from Philadelphia, Rabbi Yaakover Ruderman from Baltimore, and other rabbis locked out of the White House.
All they were asking for was a place for Jewish refugees to be safe.
— Rabbi E. Poupko. #IStandWithIsrael ???????? (@RabbiPoupko) November 6, 2023
Mr. President, you heard the call of Alexander Idan from New Jersey, being held hostage inside Gaza. You heard the call of Emily Hend from Kibbutz Be’eri who is just eight years old, and is being held hostage in the hands of the world’s most cruel terrorists inside Gaza. President Biden, you heard the call of Tamar, Jonathan, and their three children, Arbel, Shachar, and Omri–an entire family–who were all murdered by Hamas. You heard God’s anguish-filled call to Cain: “Your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the earth”(Genesis 4), understanding how grave the crime of what Hamas did on October 7th was. You heard the call of Israelis who were burying their dead, searching for their loved ones, and worrying about another front being opened against them by Hezbollah in the north.
President Biden, at a time when too many choose their words based on political expediency, you chose yours based on the call of history. You showed towering leadership at a time when it was needed most.
The State of Israel and the Jewish people can never thank you enough. You have written a new chapter in the books of leadership and friendship. Our gratitude to you is eternal; your continued support is a source of inspiration, and we stand with you–forever thankful.
Rabbi Elchanan Poupko