Thank you to the many congregants who participated in last week’s “Israel: It’s Time for a Conversation.” Your open minds, listening ears and compassion hearts enabled the clergy to share our perspectives with full trust, and allowed so many of you to engage in a thoughtful and thought-provoking discussion. Please continue to engage in Israel through our course this fall, ReadRS book discussions, the Tel Aviv to Ramallah Hip-Hop concert and our trip to Israel this spring.
On Wednesday, we opened the conversation with the words of Psalm 122:6-9: “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem; may those who love you be at peace. May there be well-being within your walls, and security within your citadels. For the sake of my family and friends, I will say, “Peace be within you.” For the sake of the house of the Eternal our God, I will seek your prosperity.”
With the understanding that, just as not all people who criticize Israel are anti-Semitic, not all those who support Israel are doing so blindly, we engaged in a respectful and lively discussion and heard many different perspectives about “those who love” Jerusalem. We heard commitment to the State of Israel, concern for the future of peace talks for a two-state solution, compassion for the Palestinians who suffer, worry about anti-Semitism, a yearning for the end of the West Bank occupation and despair that Hamas cares nothing of the Palestinians and will not stop their efforts towards destruction. We heard passion for Israel and all the it has accomplished, excitement about our congregational trip this spring an confusion about how the Middle East has arrived at this conflict.
We concluded with the singing of Oseh Shalom and the words of 20th century Israel poet, Yehudah Amichai:
I, May I rest in peace,
I, who am still living, may I have peace in the rest of my life
I want peace right now, while I’m still alive
I don’t want to wait like that pious man who wished for one leg
Of the golden chair of paradise, I want a four-legged chair
I want the rest of my peace now.
I have lived out my life in wars of every kind: battles without
and within, close combat, face-to-face, the faces always
my own, my lover-face, my enemy-face.
Wars with the old weapons –sticks and stones, blunt axe, words,
Dull ripping knife, love and hate,
And wars with newfangled weapons—machine gun, missile,
Words, land mines exploding, love and hate.
I don’t want to fulfill my parents’ prophesy that life is war.
I want peace with all my body and all my soul.
Rest me in peace.
Our clergy feels blessed to be in a community where we can engage in difficult conversations together.