Like you, my heart is heavy with hourly news reports coming out of Israel and Gaza. Many of us just returned from an amazing & transformative trip to this land whose beauty is unparalleled. My soul aches for Israel, is enraged at Hamas, is shattered by the death of our soldiers and innocents on both sides of the border. Having spoken with many of you over these past weeks, I know you share the agony of this conflict.
I understand that with everything, we have differences of opinion. In this case, one need only glance at Facebook or Twitter or other media to see how deeply felt perspectives are expressed, not always in the most healthy or productive ways.
Nigerian author and activist Chimamanda Adiche speaks of the “danger of a single story.” Similarly, Rabbi Melissa Weintraub, our recent Robert N. Schlesinger Memorial Scholar, taught us that peace is only possible when we are willing to do the hard work of listening to each other’s stories, even when they contradict our own.
To provide a forum for compassionate discussion and learning, I’m delighted that Rabbi Amy Eilberg, a trusted colleague, friend, longtime advocate for human rights, and author of, “From Enemy to Friend: Jewish Wisdom and the Pursuit of Peace,” will facilitate a conversation this coming Sunday, August 3, 3-5pm at Shir Tikvah. To read more about Rabbi Eilberg, go to her website: www.rabbiamyeilberg.com.
We must be able to listen to one another, to hear each other’s perspectives and be open to new information even when it contradicts our long held beliefs. I know that we all hope for the day that this land can arrive at a long-term solution that enables Israelis to live in security and Palestinians to live in their own land and govern their own destiny; a solution where all the peoples of the lands are able to raise their children without fear.
Details of the exact shape of the discussion are in process, but here’s what we know: This will not be a Crossfire style debate. We will lift up our Shir Tikvah values of democracy, mutual respect, kavod (dignity) for all humanity, spirited discussion, Ahavat Yisrael (a love for fellow Jews), and Rodeph Shalom, (the mitzvah to pursue peace). Please, join us in a spirit of curiosity, with a desire to listen and to learn, to build bridges of understanding and mutual respect.
Please RSVP to email@example.com by this Friday, August 1 at noon.