On a Shabbat When Shalom Seems Elusive

This week marked the beginning of the Hebrew month of Heshvan, nicknamed Mar Heshvan, or “Bitter Heshvan,” because there are no Jewish holidays this month.  As we watch the violent attacks against our people in Israel in recent days, it does indeed feel like a bitter time.

Like many of you, I have been reading the news with a mix of fear, anger, and sadness.  But being one Jewish people means that we cannot turn away from Israel at this difficult time.  Yesterday, in response to the heartache of everything I was reading, I booked my next flight to Israel, a few months from now.  Libi b’mizrach – “My heart is in the East,” as Jews living far away from Israel have affirmed for centuries.

Tonight, together with Reform, Conservative, Orthodox and Reconstructionist synagogues around the country, Beth David will observe a Shabbat of Solidarity with Israel.  I hope you can join us for services tonight.  If not, I hope you’ll consider taking a few minutes to join in Week 2 of our Shabbat candlelighting experiment, focusing on the Shabbat goal of “Illuminating what matters” in connection to Israel this week.  Here’s my suggestion for this week’s meditation for Shabbat candlelighting:IlluminateSavorSweeten

  1. Light two candles
  2. Say the blessing:
    Baruch Atah, Adonai, Eloheinu, Melech haolam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav, v’tzivanu l’hadlik ner shel Shabbat.
  3. Close your eyes and ask yourself:
    In a week when Jews in Israel are under attack, but I am far away in safety, what have I done to fulfill the value of Klal Yisrael, connection with Jews around the world?  Over the next 25 hours, what one thing can I do to deepen my understanding and strengthen my connection to Israel, and to lift up hope rather than despair?

While we observe the Solidarity Shabbat here in the US, a group of 56 American Reform Jews are gathering in Jerusalem for the World Zionist Congress, pressing forward on the work of building a peaceful, secure, and just future for Israel.  A few months ago, I asked you to support ARZA, the Association of Reform Zionists of America, in the WZC elections, and thanks in part to your votes, ARZA won nearly 40% of the vote, making it the largest American delegation at the WZC.  You can read about our 40 American Reform Jewish delegates to the Congress on ARZA’s Facebook page.  You can become an ARZA member on their website.

Shaalu Shalom Yerushalayim – as the psalmist taught us so many centuries ago, Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem.

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