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Here and There

15/02/2024 05:34:45 PM

Feb15

Rabbi Liz

HERE AND THERE

Here: the memes proliferate, the slogans fly, the protests surge. 

There: the suffering mounts, intolerably. 

Here, in our non-war torn lives, it’s hard to know how much to tap into the enduring torment that prevails over there - amongst those struggling to survive in Gaza, or those waiting for their loved ones taken hostage on October 7 to return – and still be able to maintain that outward normalcy.

Here, too, the norms of discourse, already stretched to fun-house mirror distortion, have cracked wide open. On intra-communal levels, within families and workplaces, in coalitions, hard lines have hardened, more rigid than Pharaoh’s heart. True harm is being caused by folks who cannot bear to hear their co-workers, students, interlocutors or loved ones express compassion for the suffering of the “other.” As if open hearts have limited capacity to care, or caring for human suffering in Gaza expunges compassion for our people.

There are, and always have been, two narratives and two peoples on the land that used to be called Palestine and is now called Israel. To explore the range of Jewish attachment, or lack thereof, to that land today is beyond this brief reflection. Yet its multi-hued varieties - religious, cultural, ethnic, political, among the many factors that colour and shape our peoples’ histories - emerged long before this moment. Our people do not have one voice on how to stand today with that contested land, and never has.

As the film Israelism explores, I am among those who grew up learning only one narrow strand of one narrative. It took multiple trips, conferences, books, conversation, experiences – many uncomfortable – to begin to see and comprehend the scope of the conflict. It hurts my heart to recall how little I was taught, and yet I’m grateful to now be able to stand against occupation and against perpetual human rights violations with other rabbis in Truah and since October 7 with Rabbis for Ceasefire .

I stand with those, here and there, who assert that the conflict has not, cannot, and will not be resolved with violence. I stand with my rabbinic colleagues alongside people of all faiths, or none, in this Black church-led Pilgrimage for Peace between Baltimore and Washington, D.C., as well as those planning a forthcoming interfaith vigil led by Combatants for Peace , a grassroots movement of Israelis and Palestinians working together to end the occupation and lead towards justice and dignity for all.

Wherever we stand, may we understand the sacredness, the holy tradition of protesters like Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, who described walking between Selma and Montgomery in 1965 as if “our legs uttered songs. Even without words, our march was worship. " I felt my legs were praying ."  

Rabbi Liz

Sat, 18 May 2024