The crisis in the Middle East is heading int three weeks now and members of Jewish communities across the globe are processing a great deal of uncertainty, sadness and anxiety, including those here locally.

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Like so many others, members of the Jewish community in and around Folsom are working through many emotions day by day as the bloodshed continues in Israel. However, according to Rabbi Yossi Grossbaum of the Chabad Jewish Community Center, the community at large is showing a great deal of support in this difficult time.

“It has affected our community very directly, “said Grossbaum who sat down in an extensive one-on-one conversation with Folsom Times and TV this week.

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Watch the full interview with Rabbi Yossi Grossbaum of the Chabad Jewish Community Center in Folsom as he talks about the local community reaction and support from residents to the police department and more during the continuing situation overseas

“For a lot of people it’s a news report about events that are happening thousands of miles away and unfortunately we are too immune to bad news somewhere else in the world, it doesn’t exactly feel close to home,” Grossbaum explained. “The reality in our community is that everyone knows someone who is directly affected.”

Grossbaum explained how there are those in the local community that have friends and extended family in Israel, many which have not been able to make contact without since the terrorist attacks began and hostages were taken. The lack of communication instills a great deal of uncertainty and fear, leaving those afar wondering if their friends or loved ones have been among the hostages or killed in the attacks. 

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“There are families here that have siblings in the area, there’s families that have friends there.  A woman was just telling me that her brother-in-law serves on the Israeli police force and five of his colleagues were killed in that attack. This is right here in our community,” Grossbaum said during is in depth discussion.

Shortly after the attacks began in Israel, Grossbaum began receiving an outpouring of support from the Folsom community. Topping the list of those who reached out was Folsom Police Chief Rick Hillman. Hillman assured Grossbaum that the Folsom Police Department will work with vigilance to ensure that the Jewish community of Folsom, as well as the entire community during these uncertain times.

“The Folsom Police Department has been closely monitoring the horrible terrorist attack in Israel. My heart goes out to the victims, their families and others experiencing the trauma of the death and destruction there,” Hillman said to Folsom’s Chabad Jewish Community Center as he assured the community that the department will, “remain vigilant to ensure safety in our community.”

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Hillman assured that the Folsom Police Department is in active communication with its local, state, and federal law enforcement partners monitoring the conflict abroad and reactions nationwide and locally. He also said that there are currently no credible threats thus far but are taking proactive approach in the community, such as added patrols near and around the Jewish Community Center and officers parked nearby during times of worship and gatherings.

The support hasn’t only come from law enforcement for the local Jewish community, according to Grossbaum. He said many residents across Folsom that are not necessarily part of the Jewish community have left flowers and cards at the community center. They have also left messages of encouragement over the phone, in emails and other methods. He said overall, the Folsom community has been very supportive during this time. 

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“We’ve have had many people leave flowers and cards here in support, others have shown support by emailing or calling, all have been positive messages, said Grossbaum. “Unfortunately, online and Facebook there have been some less than positive messages through but for the most part it’s all been positive.”

While there have been no credible threats to the Jewish community locally or across the region at this time, it doesn’t mean that the fear of such is non-existent. Grossbaum shared there are those right here in this community worried that what is happening overseas could find its way to them.

“We have many Jewish families here in Folsom that live in a relatively secure environment, we don’t have terrorists running up and down our streets like that. “But the reality is that people are afraid that maybe that’s going to happen to them here and they will be sought out.” 

According to Grossbaum, the positive support from the community and the police department is helping with some of that fear amongst the local Jewish community.

“It was a very positive gesture from our police department to make sure people feel comfortable by reaching out and insure there is a presence over here. Even with that, there are way too many families that are afraid to be in a place that is publicly identified as a Jewish place.”  

According to Grossbaum, in addition to the Folsom Police Department, members of the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Department have reached out to show their support as well as the local office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). 

Born and raised in a family of Chabad emissaries in the Jewish community of Melbourne, Australia. Grossbaum grew up in the environment of Chabad outreach set many of his goals and his vision for his future. 

He attended Yeshiva College (Melbourne) for his Elementary & High School education, and later continued his studies at the Educational Institute Oholei Torah in Brooklyn, NY. In 2001, he was chosen as a Yeshiva exchange student and sent for two years to Toronto, Canada. Upon completion of his studies in 2004, he received his Rabbinic Ordination from the Central Lubavitcher Yeshiva in New York.

Grossbaum, was the founding director of the Student Outreach Organization of the Yeshiva Lubavitch in Toronto and was instrumental in the founding and original management of the nationally known JNet Chavrusa Program. Before he moved to Folsom, Grossbaum visited many across the globe to provide educational events and holiday programs benefiting small outlying Jewish communities. 

Today, he continues his love of educating the public and sharing his knowledge of Jewish history, not only of the global nature but locally as well. This week he shared some interesting Jewish history about Folsom and its early beginnings, all of which can be viewed in the full-length video interview above.  

To learn more about Folsom’s Chabad Jewish Community Center you can visit www.jewishfolsom.org. See video above for complete interview.

Above photo: Rabbi Yossi Grossbaum of the Chabad Jewish Community Center in Folsom talks about how the local community is affected with the ongoing situation in the Middle East and how the Folsom Community has rallied to support the local Jewish Community. Photo by Bill Sullivan

Bill Sullivan
Author: Bill Sullivan