Albany Rabbi concerned about Mid East - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Albany Rabbi concerned about Mid East

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July 25, 2006

Albany -- It may seem a world away, but the conflict that continues to intensify in the middle East may affect you more than you realize. Members of the Jewish community fear this could be the beginning of World War III.      

If you ask most people to point out Israel on a map, they probably couldn't. But Jewish studies scholar and Rabbi Dana Kaplan, of Temple B'nai Israel, can do better than that. He spent several years there and can recall it with detail.  

"I was there during the first gulf war, so I spent a lot of time in a bomb shelter, but that was a different war," he said.

A much different war. The latest conflict in Israel began when members of the terrorist organization Hezbollah kidnapped three Israeli soldiers.

Now Israel and Hezbollah are firing rockets at each other, and innocent people are dying. "It's very serious and we're very upset," Kaplan said. "Those of us at the Temple here, some of us have relatives and friends in Israel."

Rabbi Kaplan has a friend in Haifa, who is also a Rabbi. "It's very insecure, because at any moment a shell could come crashing through your roof and kill you and your family. It's extremely frightening."

And not just for the people in Lebanon and Israel. This conflict could become much larger. Some say, even a third world war. "I think this is just the beginning of an attempt by the Iranians to launch a world wide jihad and I think part one of that is to destroy the state of Israel and they have other plans that go far beyond that," the Rabbi said.

Beyond the borders of the Middle East. He believes everyone should be aware of the developments. "This is just potentially the beginning of something much larger,"  said Kaplan.

Every Friday night at services at the temple they pray for the safe return of the three Israeli soldiers, in addition to the entire conflict.

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