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Praying for a better day

I can’t stop thinking about Israel. My mind plays October 7 on repeat. I cannot unsee what I’ve seen: the brutality, the murder, the horror. Over a thousand Israelis were slaughtered. Homes were burned to the ground. Families were separated. Hostages were taken to faraway tunnels, their fate still unknown. It was the most lethal day our people have known since the Holocaust. Let’s say it clearly: Hamas broke a ceasefire and started a war that day.

Ever since, we have watched the world turn against us and more so each day. We’ve watched hope itself diminish. As casualties continue to mount in Gaza, as destruction knows no bounds in places like Gaza City and Rafa, we rightfully ask: When will it end? When will reason come to the fore and say at last that enough is enough? The loss of life is unthinkable and harrowing; I do not believe it takes either peoples in the direction of peace or a peaceful future. Actually I believe the opposite, namely that violence only begets more violence, that bloodshed only leads to further bloodshed.

Here in North America rising antisemitism has been one of the many tragic consequences of that fateful day. Protests, parades, marches, disruptions, performative displays designed to unmoor and malign every Jewish soul from Matisyahu to local Hillel presidents to Israeli restaurant owners to you and me, regardless of our actual feelings about the current Israeli administration and its decision making. Our kids feel less safe on campus. So many hide their Jewish star. Social media has descended even further into a place of vitriol and unfettered acrimony.

I can’t stop thinking about any of it. I feel all of it in my heart every day. I know you do too. The anguish. The profound pain. All the concern.

Even as we’ve discussed Israeli books, welcomed speakers, held prayer vigils, gone to Israel to learn and explore, even so we still feel so totally exasperated and upset. We all do. Like Aaron in this week’s Torah portion, in our trauma, we’ve been stunned silent.

In the coming weeks we will have a number of additional opportunities to process and think through the state of our world together. I will be hosting two more roundtable events. The first will be on Thursday, April 11 at 11AM. The second will be on Wednesday, May 8 at 10AM. PLEASE do your best to join us.

I also wanted to make sure you knew about the speaker we will welcome on the night of May 21 at 7:30pm., Gil Hoffman, he is the head of Honest Reporting, an organization that monitors the media’s treatment and casting of Israel. His bio includes the following:

“Hoffman covered politics for The Jerusalem Post newspaper for a quarter century and remains close to Israel’s movers and shakers, while remaining objective on both Israeli and US politics. He served as a military spokesman, including during Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. He recently returned to Gaza, embedded with the IDF combat unit that controls Khan Yunes. But it is the media battlefield, where Hoffman is leading the fight for Israel as the executive director of Honest Reporting, which fights for Israel in the international mainstream and social media.

Hoffman has led the media watchdog as it has brought about the firing, suspension or reassignment of 10 Hitler and Hamas praising journalists, including 2 from CNN and three from the New York Times.

The Algemeiner website recently named him one of the top 100 people positively influencing Jewish life, alongside presidents Biden and Zelensky and prime ministers Sunak and Netanyahu.

He was raised in Chicago, graduated Magna Cum Laude from Northwestern University’s School of Journalism and now teaches political strategy at Israel’s College of Management.”

We keep asking: “What can we do?” We can keep learning, keep talking, keep asking the hardest questions. We can keep praying and hoping. We can refuse to give up on a better day tomorrow.