A Community Message on War in Israel Palestine

Dear Beloved Community,

As I write, the violence keeps escalating in Israel/Palestine, including massive aerial bombings of Gaza, rockets targeting Israel, and increasing eruptions of community violence in Lod, Acco, and other towns and cities with mixed Palestinian Israeli and Jewish Israeli populations. The Israeli military is preparing another ground invasion of Gaza. People throughout the region spend sleepless nights in fear of bombs falling on their homes. A friend texted me, “The whole land is fire.” Sirens wail, explosions fill the night sky, the wounded and the grief-stricken cry out, and even moments of quiet are electrified by the uncertainty of what the next moment might bring, adrenaline coursing through millions of bodies in mortal danger.

Decades of Israel’s systemic oppression, dispossession and dehumanization of Palestinians are erupting. There are generations of individual and collective trauma among Palestinians and Jews. There is a vast imbalance of power, and cynical Israeli political leadership that is willing to sacrifice everyone for its own survival. There is U.S. complicity, enabling and responsible for arming, green-lighting and ignoring catastrophically unjust Israeli institutions and actions.

As a community, we hold many different analyses, political frames and understandings of the history, causes, and ways out of this crisis. Many of us have people we love and care about on the ground, Palestinian and Jewish. We go to sleep praying for their safety, and wake up checking our phones to see if they’re ok – whatever “ok” means in a time like this.

However we understand what’s happening, our gift and our call as a spiritual community is to practice open-heartedness, even as we struggle for justice. We’re called to resist the shutting down and hardening that violence, rage and fear push us toward.

One of my closest friends is a Jewish woman who lives in Tel Aviv. She was driving home from caring for her elderly mother when bombs started exploding and debris was raining down everywhere. She told me how terrifying it was to stop the car and run for her life, searching for shelter. And then she said, “I keep thinking about the people in Gaza, who have nowhere to run.”

The Shabbat before last, during parashat Emor, we celebrated the bar mitzvah of Max Roston-Saul. Max was exploring restorative justice, and taught that “Harmed people harm people. Healed people heal people.” So much harm is bringing so much more harm, and the need for healing is growing exponentially by the day, by the hour.

However this violence is impacting you and the people you love and care about, may you find islands of peace and healing, including in the embrace of our community.

May we be a refuge for each other, growing peace, safety, and healing. And may that refuge nurture our commitment to ending this violence, and the injustice at its foundation, as we pray for the safety and liberation of all who live in that troubled land.

With love,
Rabbi Dev,
and on behalf of
Hazzan Shulamit
Miichael Saxe-Taller, ED
Ruthie Levin, POC Organizer
Catherine Lyons, Board Chair
Gray Myrseth, Rabbi Educator