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05/27/2021 12:16:46 PM


Rabbi Ari Lucas

I know many of you have been troubled by the events of the past few weeks in Israel, around the world, and here in the US:

• Violent and Antisemitic attacks against Jews in New York, Los Angeles, and elsewhere
• Another round of violent conflict between Israel and Hamas
• Violent rioting in Israel’s neighborhoods
• Delegitimization of Israel in the media (and social media) and the lack of reciprocal or equal concern for Jewish and Israeli safety
• Divisions within the Jewish people
• And a devastating humanitarian crisis in Gaza which began long before the latest violence, but has been severely exacerbated by it

I am troubled by all of this as well. But I also felt joy, comfort, and gratitude this morning as I said the daily b’rakhah “Thank You, God, for making me a Jew.” It is indeed a blessing to be a Jew.

Although these events can leave us feeling vulnerable, hopeless, and afraid, the Jewish people has been through difficult times before and I am confident that we will persist through this moment as well. Am Yisrael Hai - the Jewish people is alive and well (thank God) 3000 years after Abraham and Sarah. And not just alive, but empowered - through the blessing of Israel - a thriving, innovative, multicultural society with economic, military, and cultural clout. Is Israel vulnerable? Yes. Are Jews in America vulnerable? Yes. But we are not powerless. And we must never become hopeless. Power is a complex thing, but I would rather be a Jew living in a time of Jewish empowerment - with all of its moral challenges - than not. I believe we ought to continue to use our power to stand up for and protect ourselves as well as show our love and support for others who are vulnerable.

So my first piece of advice is continue to be the proud, loving, caring Jews that you already are. Come to shul. Cook Jewish comfort food. Read a Jewish book. Wear a Magen David. Do something to celebrate your Jewish identity.  Expressing your Jewish identity proudly is the best possible response to antisemitism. The border between pride and chauvinism is a thin one, but I think it’s possible to find the right tone and posture in expressing our Jewish pride.

You can also use your voice to express your concern for Israel or for your fellow Jew. There are lots of different ways to use your voice - some will rally and march, some might contact elected officials, others will write op-eds and posts on social media, others still might think about engaging family and friends in a conversation. Whatever you choose, remember that you have a voice and that makes you powerful. This year, we’ve been privileged to partner with the ADL which is a leading voice in combating hate and antisemitism. Today, they’ve called for a 
day of action against Antisemitism. There are lots of options here about how you might consider using your voice. Take a look:

Next, I wanted to let you know that I am honored and privileged to be participating in an upcoming clergy mission to Israel organized by Greater MetroWest Federation. It’s quick. I leave on 6/6 and I’ll be back on 6/10. I plan to share more about this when I return, but for now, know that I’m carrying you in my hearts with me as I prepare to go to Israel with colleagues and friends to learn about the situation and show our support for our brothers and sisters in Israel. Consider me your shaliah (emissary). If you’d like, you can send me a prayer that I will print out and bring with me on my mission. If we make it to the kotel, I will place it in the wall on your behalf. Simply fill out this form and I’ll be sure to take it with me (you can do so anonymously if you wish).

Lastly, I want to encourage you to take this opportunity to build a relationship with someone different from you. Conflict and violence result when difference is seen as something to be feared or hated rather than something to be celebrated or an opportunity for learning. Palestinians are not the enemy, not even antisemites. The enemy is hatred and bigotry. If we are to be agents of change, peacemakers in our homes, communities, and the entire world, then we must begin locally by celebrating the differences that make us each uniquely created in the image of God. Start small - talk to a neighbor, a co-worker, a family member or friend; stay curious; hang in there even if you encounter something that makes you uncomfortable and begin the process of transforming the world into a more peaceful place - one relationship at a time.

February 27,2024 /  18 Adar I 5784