Together, we dedicate our gathering in memory of the lives lost and with prayers for the safe return of those held captive,  and for everyone affected by the ongoing violence in Israel.

On erev Shabbat, Friday evening, October 20, twenty-three Temple B’nai Israel households joined together on Zoom to offer prayers, songs, and personal stories as a way of offering each support as we navigate the present crisis in Israel and its impact on Jews worldwide.  Congregants shared personal connections to Israeli Jews, their own experiences of exclusion and antisemitism, and also the uplifting incidents of kindness and volunteerism by Israelis themselves who have united together to tend to the 100,000 of their own who have been displaced and are now refugees in their own land.  It was a time of TBIers coming together in solidarity and comfort for each other.  A moving poem written and read by TBI congregant Amy Mitz expresses her deeply personal perspective on the crisis.

From the Book of Palms by Amy Mitz

Since the massacre and kidnapping of my people
In our own ancient land
There has been no time for a Jew anywhere to breathe,
No time for this Jew to inhale
Except to sniff the red blood scent
Of hate and war from afar.
These are times beyond no rhyme or reason.

I am remote, but still hostage
To bombardments of news of looming scale
And assaults of fragmented thoughts of human failure,
Enslaved– to a season of growing despair
Among those–who push back terrorism
For a small place to walk on land and breathe bombless air.
Lashing out–at my own perverse empathy of helplessness.
There is no easy buffer.

I want a magic wand to wave away the lunacy
Of slogans and jargon and measuring fault,
Wave in deep pause that halts the pace
And makes space for the value of all human life
And oh how I want to be there with those who suffer.

But I am here.
Here I sit.
My gaze shifts to my window opposite.
The late fall sepals of hydrangea
Have turned a spring pink.
They reach out to me.
Tiny blooms of babies’ palms

All newborns have palms of pink.
The suckled, the sweet, the starving, the screaming,
The red-bloodied tiny bodies of bombed babies,
Palms that lift like butterflies and Angel wings.
In the first bold breeze of cooler days,
Pink sepals sing tenderly
Porous messages of peace.

“The gathering on Zoom was as comforting for others as it was for me.  Folks were generous, authentic, and sincere,” said Rabbi Jan Katz, “it was a time to share, to be together, to grieve, and to hope.” 

May we and the inhabitants of the State of Israel live to see the day when mourning will again turn into dancing, sackcloth into robes of joy.

Kein yihiye ratzon – May it come to pass!