Dec 31, 2008

A Note from Rabbi Creditor & Two Recommended Action Steps

A Note from Rabbi Creditor & Two Recommended Action Steps

5 Tevet, 5769
January 1, 2009

Chevreh, this is a hard time for our people. In the Talmud we read, regarding the Jewish people, that "later troubles make [us] forget earlier ones. (TB Berachot 13a)" Memories of Mumbai haven't faded in the least, and now the incredible pressure the State Israel faces to do both what is necessary and what is right in Gaza is simply overwhelming. It is in moments like this that the unity of the Jewish people is truly tested, and more important than ever.

Violence is ugly. These attacks hurt everyone involved. Palestinians dying is as wrong as Israelis dying. Peace, reconciliation, dialogue and diplomacy are the preference, the content of our deepest prayer and advocacy. But we've come to a crossroads with Hamas, which doesn't even recognize the legitimacy of Israel's existence. There is no moral equivalence between the missile that pierced an Israeli kindergarten this morning in Beer Sheva and the Israeli bombing of a Gazzan mosque being used as a Hamas munitions warehouse. Israel's strategic hope for survival as a secure and democratic Jewish homeland lies in a diplomatic rather than military solution, and in a negotiated peace agreement with the Palestinians. But this requires "recognition of the other" at the most basic of levels as a prerequisite to dialogue.

In our East Bay Community, perhaps especially in Berkeley, we are of many minds on just about every topic. Israel is no an exception to this. But now is the time to turn our hearts eastward. Supporting our brothers and sisters in Israel is not a rejection of the humanity of the Palestinian people. It is a recognition that our family is under threat.
I have adapted one written a few days ago by Masorti Rabbis Simchah Roth and Michael Graetz. You can find it here. The final verse (quoting Micah 4:4) reads: "But every person shall sit under their grapevine or fig tree with no one to disturb him." May every Israeli and every Palestinian experience the fulfillment of this prophetic yearning.

Two action items I am recommending to our community:

1) We were honored to welcome to Netivot Shalom just a few weeks ago David Lissy, Executive Director and CEO of the Masorti Foundation for Conservative Judaism in Israel. He has written the entire Conservative Movement of the urgent need for support in the face of all that is happening. The full text of his letter is here, but the short form is this: Work needs to be done in the Masorti community in Ashkelon, including more reinforcement for the kindergarten area, air conditioning, protective covering for windows and funding for a social worker to help with problems of traumatic stress among the children. Checks should be sent to the Masorti Foundation, 475 Riverside Drive Suite 832, New York, NY 10115. Checks should be marked Emergency Appeal. Online contributions can be made at www.masorti.org. (Click "Emergency Appeal" in the Gift Allocation.)

2) Consider joining the ShefaNetwork Israel Trip this summer. We are currently at 22 participants, and this week's events make clear that the trip, while feeding our souls, is also an opportunity to dialogue and support our sisters and brothers in Israel, to speak with Israelis about our dreams for reconciliation and peace. This trip is a precious opportunity to both give and receive. Please click here for online information.

Friends, may the year that has just begun find us healthy, safe, and ever-hopeful.

Kol Tuv,
Rabbi Creditor