I know there are so many reasons to feel distressed these days: War rages on in Ukraine. Natural disasters, such as the devastating earthquake in Turkey, uproot countless lives and lead to mass casualties. Political gamesmanship here in the U.S. continues to wreak havoc on the many just trying to get by. Shootings remain all too common, taking innocent lives at schools and on campuses across the nation. In Israel, a new administration threatens so many of the principles we know and love: diversity, democracy and dialogue. Like you, I feel the weight of all of it. I feel it everyday.
I am writing to offer a word of light and hope. We need both these days, maybe as much as ever. I find myself turning to the places we Jews have long turned: the comfort and solace found in community, the peace found in prayer, the fulfillment found in giving tzedakah, the mending that comes with acts of tikkun olam and the perspective offered by our extraordinary history. Our KI family is present, strong and ready to grant you not only some company, but to remind you that you are not alone in this harrowing world, whether in learning, worship, aiding the needy or gathering at milestones. We are in this together.
With the help of our stellar leadership we will continue to advocate for and work toward not only an America that accommodates and celebrates difference, but an Israel that lives up to the highest of ideals. (This coming weekend I will travel to our nation’s capital with our amazing teens to speak with elected officials about the issues that mean the most to them, including ensuring the rights of the LGBTQ community, doing our part to end gun violence, and enacting policies that protect those populations too often marginalized). Our many committees and affiliate groups are working hard to build bridges across every imaginable divide and bring fulfillment to every KI household. (Reach out to the office if such work would bring you meaning).
I am also taking solace these days in the inspiring history of our people. Think of all that we have endured. Think of the many sagas and existential crises we have survived. From our Israelite ancestors who would not be stopped by a tyrannical Pharaoh to our Russian ancestors who fled the Cossacks more than a century ago to our parents and grandparents who would not be undone by Hitler’s death machine to the way we continue to speak out against widespread antisemitism today, we are a people who have clung to heritage and Jewish pride in every generation, even against all odds. We have placed the proverbial menorah in the window once and again. Today is no different.
Many will also find comfort in supporting the important work of the synagogue, especially at this critical moment in time. The KI of today is a safe haven for our kids, a beacon of community, and a force for social change, as it has been for over a century. Our team is eager, excited, and committed to doing all that it takes to engage and energize today’s busy families. Click here to pitch in and replenish your soul through tzedakah.
Finally, I know that many of you are still considering coming to Israel with me and Cantor Levy this summer. Here is another way to feed your soul during these tenuous times. The beauty and grandeur of the Holy Land cannot be fully articulated. We’ll see together that Israel is more than any headline and more than any one administration. Israel is a place that is sacred, magical, and eye opening. We’ll learn about it together as we explore, eat, reflect, and ultimately come away transformed. Please do what you can to join us. More information on the trip can be found here.
Friends, I am here for you and so honored to be on this journey with you.
Here’s to peace and joy.
Rabbi Benjamin David