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At Central Synagogue

We Pray for Peace in Jerusalem

Posted May 13, 2021

This email was sent to the congregation on May 13, 2021.

Dear Fellow Member,

“My heart is in the East and I am at the end of the West.” These words of the 12th Century poet Rabbi Yehuda Halevi capture the feeling of distance and despair I feel in this moment of devastating violence in Israel this week. Once again, Israel is under fire, with over 1,000 Hamas rockets shot into civilian territory. I have heard stories from my family and friends living in Israel of rushing children in the middle of the night to bomb shelters, of living under sustained attacks and relentless terror.

But this week’s violence is different because extremists from both sides are also carrying out their own brand of vigilante justice, with synagogue burnings, riots, and lynchings, with no end in sight. We condemn the bloodshed carried out by extremist hate as we mourn the mounting loss of Israeli and Palestinian lives.

Israel’s right to exist and defend itself is, for me, non-negotiable. I am comforted by those who have affirmed that fundamental commitment in the public sphere. But I am also forcing myself to read the voices I don’t agree with, to make sure that those of us who love and defend the Jewish State do not oversimplify the powder keg that has led to this present conflagration. I urge us all to take a deep dive into the complexity of these issues, so we can engage the conversation with nuance and all the facts, hard as they may be to sort out in the barrage of slanted or false coverage on social media.

We also share the reflections of our own Shani Ben Or, former intern at Central Synagogue, who is living through this experience in Jerusalem and offers her personal perspective on this past week.

Sha’alu Shalom Yerushaylim. We pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

May our hearts not be far from our brothers and sisters who are fighting for their very survival and may we find a path of peace for all people who live in the land.

Sincerely,

Rabbi Angela Buchdahl, Senior Rabbi