These have been deeply upsetting days. As the world watches, Israeli citizens are being murdered by a terrorist entity bent on the annihilation of Jews and a Jewish state. It is gut-wrenching and awful. This is – by far – the most egregious attack on Israel and Israelis in a generation. It is an assault not only upon a people, but on so many of the values we hold dear: compassion, understanding and tolerance. As predicted, Israel has begun to respond. We know too well that the cycle of war can only lead to greater violence and loss.
Our hearts are heavy to be sure. We feel alone. We feel bruised. We feel helpless. We feel exasperated.
We have witnessed not only the wrenching attack on Israel in places like Sderot and Ashkelon but in the media as well, where talking heads play a dangerous game of moral equivalency and attempt to justify the events unfolding. While Israel is far from a perfect place, Hamas – elected by the Palestinian people to lead them – consists of murderers. This attack was without warrant and hit the defenseless: children, the elderly and those who innocently sought to attend a music festival this past weekend. Israel can and will defend itself, as any country would, and without apology. Now there are scores of souls being held hostage, their lives hanging in the balance. We beseech a benevolent God above that they will be returned to their families alive.
Our tradition offers much guidance in times of deep uncertainty. We pray for good and empathy to prevail. We pray that the Eternal One might ‘grant us peace, Your precious gift.’ I hope you attend tonight’s vigil, where we will join with our community in songs of peace, hear words of perspective and find comfort in our togetherness. Come be a part of it. Grant yourself some solace in this distressing time. We also have the opportunity to give tzedakah, supporting causes like Magen David Adom and the Jewish Federation’s emergency fund. Doing so will allow you to support our brothers and sisters in the Land of Israel at this critical moment.
Lastly, if you or your children or grandchildren would like to come in to talk, Cantor Levy and I are here for you. We are all carrying a great burden right now. Know that we are here to help, to listen and to cry with you.
May the One who makes peace in the highest of heights, make peace for us, for Israel and for our (profoundly wounded) world.
Rabbi Benjamin P. David