May 12, 2021
Dear Rodeph Sholom family,
In times of heartbreak and terror, our sages imagine that, like us, God chooses to pray. For what does God pray, they ask? God prays for care to vanquish wrath, and compassion to overwhelm all other virtues. In the face of peril and suffering, prayer gives voice to hope and opens us to feeling. God joins us in our yearning.
We begin this day overwhelmed with emotion as our hearts turn to the east. As rockets rain down on Israel, sirens blare from border to border, and parents weep for slain children, we join God in prayer. Many in our community feel this in the most personal of ways, as relatives and friends huddle in bomb shelters, and death and injury now sweep through Israel and Gaza. Hamas again targets civilians and pursues indiscriminate destruction. Eclipsing all conversation about root causes and injustices of this cycle of violence, the suffering of families in fear and the sweep of violence demands our attention and concern. Attacks on civilians are never acceptable, and we mourn the loss of all innocent lives.
Our community’s name, Rodeph Sholom, offers us our bearing – our pursuit of peace. We begin in prayer, letting images and cries and suffering reach our hearts, prompting our entreaties for an immediate de-escalation of violence and a halt to this terror. And in our prayer, we feel the weaving of heartbreak and the connection that brings us together even half a world apart. As the psalmist offered:
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem; those who love you be at peace. May there be well-being within your ramparts, peace in your citadels.For the sake of my family and friends, I pray for your well-being;for the sake of the house of Adonai our God, I seek your good. (Ps. 122:6-9)
The pursuit of peace starts with prayer and continues with education and engagement. The State of Israel is of essential importance to us as a Jewish community. We encourage every member of our community to seek out organizations working to further the vision of Israel. Learn with them. Support them. Nurture relationships that obligate us in responsibility. And may hearts flooded with compassion strengthen voices lifted in prayer, that embolden each of us to shape a secure and just Israel.
Robert N. Levine, Senior Rabbi
Benjamin H. Spratt, Senior Associate
Rabbi Greg D. Weitzman, Associate
Rabbi Juliana S. Karol, Assistant Rabbi
Rebecca Garfein, Senior Cantor
Shayna De Lowe, Associate Cantor
Barbara Zakin, Executive Director
Congregation Rodeph Sholom
Danny Karpf, Head of School
Ira Glasser, Director of Jewish Life and Learning
Rodeph Sholom School