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And Yet... Towards Hope

07/11/2023 10:05:06 PM



Words of the Spirit

And Yet…Towards Hope
These days, it is hard to know where to start, or what to focus on, when I write to you. Perhaps it is because my focus is constantly being pulled towards the prevailing Israel/Gaza crisis and its impact. Yet even in writing these words I know and understand that just the phrase “prevailing crisis,” without the qualifier, can refer to so many factors impacting our lives here and the lives of kol yoshvey tevel/all who dwell on earth. What should we look at? Where should we turn?

And yet. 

Our hearts, our kishkes/innards, our breath – as reliable barometer of our present experience – is collectively impacted by this place in this time. We are not well, many of us as individuals, and certainly the body of our people.

On Sunday, in a circle expertly shaped and compassionately held, many came to speak and listen to expressions of our present experience. This proved meaningful to and appreciated by all who attended, and we may well gather in this way again. How different, how utterly, painfully different, from the last time we gathered in our community to hold a Listening Circle related to Israeli/Palestinian issues. This moment now seems to be so powerfully shaped by one day, one date – October 7, 2023.

This awareness put me in mind of another date – lehavdil/heaven forfend you should think I am comparing – that shaped what followed in Israel: November 4, 1995. This is an excerpt of what I wrote about that date in 2015:

After his speech, and the rally’s closing song, Shir Lashalom (Song for Peace), a young Jewish student wheeled out of the darkness and shot him in the back. Rabin, the hero of war and the soldier of peace, was critically wounded. A short time later, he died of his wounds. The peace process also received a mortal blow…

Like so many times in the past twenty years since this tragic act – an act explicitly informed by a religious imperative from our precious heritage – it is easy to feel despair and hopelessness. Perhaps that’s okay, as a classmate of mine from RRC who made aliyah wrote the year of Rabin’s 7th yartsayt: “I decided last night that yom hazikaron l'yitzhak rabin (Memorial Day for Yitzhak Rabin) is the one day a year that I can allow myself to lose hope, as it is a little too much to ask to remain optimistic every single day.”

In these times, it may well become more and more difficult to remain optimistic every single day…>

We just passed the 28th yartsayt/anniversary of Rabin’s death. While there is much more I could say about its impact on me 28 years ago, what weighs on me more – and about which I do not have words – is the assasination’s prevailing impact on hopes for peace and justice in that land.

And yet.

As much as I hold and witness the existential fears of so many, here and there, I will continue to strive towards hope. The alternative, for me, would mean deactivating my very core, the wellspring of human-ness that renders me able to feel empathy, to envision and strive for a better world. 

For you, and for us, I hold on to hope.

Rabbi Liz


Sat, 18 May 2024