Shalom Chaverim. Peace and greetings friends. Together we have experienced a shock wave of horror and grief. Everyone in our community is affected by the brutality and inhumane acts of terror unleashed by Hamas just a few days ago.
We cry and rage together over the senseless loss of life, the unthinkable acts of violence, the kidnapping and hostage taking of human beings. Yes. Human beings. So much devastation inflicted upon innocent people. We feel the reverberations from these actions everywhere.
Much of my time has been spent checking in on our people, in Israel, in Jewish communities around the world, and mostly tending to the needs of our Jewish community here in Chico. Many of us have family members in Israel. Most of us have close friends and colleagues there. All of us care deeply about the suffering of our people, and the suffering of the innocent.
We pray with broken hearts. We pray unceasingly for peace and healing. We pray for a time that is not now–as now hurts in indescribable ways and haunts us. Haunts us.
We stand with the people of Israel. And we look to Torah to guide us. The Hashkiveinu prayer brings us protection: “Spread your shelter of peace over us.” The words of Isaiah inspire us to a time when war and bloodshed cease, “Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.”
Because what happens on the other side of the world not only affects us deeply, it has ripple effects, even in the smallest details of our lives.
I have been praying for our collective strength and stamina. I offer a prayer to us all.
Oh Holy One of Blessing, fortify us and grant us courage . . .
The days ahead will test us.
All of us.
On every level.
Relationships will be strained, severed.
We will act and react in ways that reflect the level of trauma and stress we have endured.
We will cry.
We will shout.
We will hide out and cut ourselves off, not knowing what to do.
We will consume too much media.
We will take refuge in unhealthy habits.
We will avoid things out of fear.
We will be weak when we should be strong.
We will be harsh when we should be kind.
We will hurt people we love.
We will speak when we should listen.
We will be silent when we should speak.
Please G-d give us the strength and the courage to do what is right, and the wisdom to know what that is.
Protect us and keep us safe.