July 17 Message from the Rabbi

Oseh shalom bimromav, hu ya’ase shalom aleinu v’al kol Yisrael, v’al kol yoshvei teiveil, v’imru amein.

May the One who makes peace in the High Place, bring peace to us, to the Jewish people, and to all who dwell on earth. And we say together, Amen.

As a Reconstructionist community, we distinguish ourselves, among other changes, in including all of humanity in our prayers for peace. We strive to balance love for and loyalty to our own People with compassion for all of humanity.

When Israel is at war, our universalism and our particularism appear to be in tension. Most of the world around us is lining up either “for” or “against.”  I believe that our unique contribution as Reconstructionists ought to be to find a way to express a primary loyalty while acknowledging universal values. When a family member is suffering, I feel that suffering more deeply and am obligated to support my loved ones. When another human being is suffering, my own experience, ideally, ought to open my heart in compassion to them as well.

It is in this spirit of balance, that we are publicizing tonight’s rally to support Israel. I plan to attend, in part, to represent our community, the New England Jewish Labor Committee, and voices on the left of the Jewish community. I hope that some of you will join me.

I am also taking this opportunity to share a few resources that have been insightful and sensitive in carrying out this vision of balancing love for our own with compassion for the Other. In the spirit of the message I wrote last week, to listen to “the still small voice,” we hope that you will attempt to read perspectives that may differ from your own. I have selected these because they are informative and provide a more nuanced perspective on both sides of the conflict.

Hamas Must Stop Their Attempts to Bomb Israeli Cities

by Rabbi Michael Lerner, Tikkun Magazine

            From one of American jewry’s staunchest critics of Israeli military policy

How the Gaza War Started — and How It Can End

by J.J. Goldberg, The Forward

A respected journalist does his research. It’s complicated.

The lopsided death tolls in Israel-Palestinian conflicts

by Adam Taylor, Washington Post

            The Washington Post explains the many factors that contribute to this disparity, pointing out that “proportionality” is not so simple.

On hope and despair in the Middle East

by David Grossman, Ha’aretz

A beautiful, poetic outcry from one of Israel’s greatest living writers and social commentators.

Posted on July 17, 2014 .