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Reflections on Israel and Shabbat Evening Discussion

Dear Temple Shalom Family,

At every bat/bar/simchat mitzvah I present our young adults with a NFTY-in-Israel gift certificate. I tell them that I hope they will travel to Israel. I tell them that as the United States is their physical home, Israel is a spiritual home. I tell them Israel is complex and wonderful and difficult. I tell them that just as they pursue justice in the United States, so too it is their responsibility to take part in pursuing justice in Israel. It is up to them to see the inequities, the struggles, the injustices, the brokenness that is in need of tikkun, of repair, and to work hard to realize it. There is a lot of brokenness in Israel right now.

And my heart is in the east.

My heart is in the east with Palestinian families facing unjust eviction from their homes of so many decades.

My heart is in the east with my cousins, the youngest only 3½ years old, as they spend time in bomb shelters in their home near Tel Aviv as Hamas fires rockets overhead.

My heart is in the east with those Muslims whose freedom of worship has been desecrated during their holiest month of Ramadan, including at the Al-Aqsa mosque complex.

My heart is in the east as synagogues are violently destroyed in Lod.

My heart is in the east with the Israelis and Palestinians killed and injured. My heart is broken with the loss of children on both sides.

My heart is in the east and it is breaking. It is breaking because peace, yet again, is all the more elusive. It is breaking because Israel is my spiritual home, a home I love deeply despite all its complexities, and it hurts me when Israel does not live up to the Jewish values on which it was built. My heart breaks when Israelis and Palestinians can’t imagine a path to peace and can only clearly see a path to war.

My heart is in the east and it is breaking because this story is familiar and I still don’t know how it will end, yet all my imagined endings include loss of life.

It is difficult to sift through the news, to understand all that is happening, to know how to respond to renewed calls for BDS and to accusations of Israel being an apartheid state. It is difficult to be a Jew in this moment, to be an Israeli in this moment, to be a Muslim in this moment, to be a Palestinian in this moment.

Let’s unpack this together.

On Friday night following Shabbat services (our final Shabbat weekend with Cantor Lianna Mendelson), we will hold a special Sukkat Shalom (Israel Dialogue) session with Garrett Nada and Sherry Doggett. Sukkat Shalom allows for a safe space to discuss Israel. Each of us comes to this moment wherever we are, each of feeling what we need to feel and questioning what we need to question. The conversation will include Sherry providing a framework for the conversation, Garrett framing the current events, and then a safe space for dialogue.

Please join us for this important conversation.

Od yavo shalom aleinu v’al kulam, salaam, aleinu v’al kol ha’olam.

May peace come upon us, all of us. Peace, on us and on everyone.


Rabbi Rachel Ackerman

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