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Rabbi's Shabbat Message

Dear friends,

Al eileh ani bochiyah - “For these things I weep” (Lamentations 1:16).

This week has been extraordinarily hard for those of us with a deep love and connection with Israel. We are holding tremendous anxiety and fear for our loved ones living there, along with grief, despair, anger, frustration, and numbness. 

Watching Hamas rockets burst like strange fireworks over Tel Aviv, seeing images of children sleeping on top of one another in shelters or in protected hallways, the gruesome images coming out of Israel’s Jewish-Arab cities of cars and shuls burning and extremist Jews and Arabs beating one another, and 14-story buildings toppled in Gaza - all of it is terrifying and heart-wrenching to witness. 

This is so much to hold in our hearts and our bodies amidst everything else that we’re trying to navigate at this moment. Someone I know made the simple statement, “Crying is the healing, not the hurt. Have you cried about it yet?” (in fact, I finally had cried, moments before, and she was right). So if you’re noticing that you’re holding onto more stress than usual this week, you’re not alone. If you can, take some time to listen to music or move your body or do something that will help you to process all of what’s happening. Take some time away from the television set or social media - I promise you, they’ll be there when you get back. 

There is much that has been written by way of analysis, context, and history to help us understand the violence of this past week. I want to share a few resources that have been helpful to me in the last few days with the hope that they could also be helpful to you as well. 

  • Sivan Zakai, a professor of Jewish education at Hebrew Union College, wrote this piece about what children at different ages and stages of development understand about Israel-Palestinian violence and how to meet them where they are. The big takeaway for me: our kids are capable of far more complex conversations than we think. 
  • This podcast conversation between Donniel Hartman, Yossi Klein Halevi, and Elana Stein Hain was a rich, emotional, and nuanced conversation about what it feels like to be an Israeli at this moment, and it modeled for me a loving, respectful discourse where intelligent people can disagree about where our priorities should be at this moment. 
  • And finally, amidst all of the headlines about the end of Jewish-Arab coexistence within Israel’s borders, I want to lift up the stories and images of Israeli Jews and Arabs who are strengthening their connections to one another in this moment. See one image below posted by Kehillat Tzion in Jerusalem, where Rabba Tamar Elad-Applebaum is holding a sign that says “Ve’ahavta l’reyacha kamocha” - love your neighbor as yourself, in Hebrew and Arabic. 

May all of our prayers for peace ascend to the heavens, and may we see a cessation of violence and work toward a lasting, durable peace for all peoples in this land.

Shabbat shalom,
R’ Lauren


A few reminders: 

  • Join in for our annual meeting on Zoom at 5:30pm this evening as we reflect on this past year and the year to come and install our new board members, which will flow right into Shabbat at the same link. 
  • We’re sending love and mazal tovs to Hannah Higgins (daughter of Rachel Jenks) as she celebrates her bat mitzvah with us this weekend!
  • We’re pausing to digest the new guidelines that were released yesterday by the CDC around masks and gatherings for vaccinated people to determine what they mean for us at Or Hadash. As we take time to absorb this information, we’ll adjust our current guidelines, but for now, we’re staying the course.
  • Last night was our first session of “Chevruta” with our board, an evening of Jewish text study, reflection, and ritual that’s designed to help us see what learnings from this last year we want to take with us into the next phase of our lives, and the conversation was surprising, poignant, and insightful. If you haven’t signed up for a session yet, it’s not too late to sign up!
  • Shavuot is Sunday evening into Monday! Kick off your learning at 1pm Sunday afternoon with Dr. Amy on the book of Ruth, or check out any of our Shavuot virtual programs that evening.
Wed, June 16 2021 6 Tammuz 5781