War of Independence and the Six-Day War - and then a different sort of soldier, a warrior for peace who recognized that Israel's ultimate security and stability depend on a resolution to the conflict. Our group visited the remarkable Yitzhak Rabin Center, dedicated to his life and legacy - and reflected on how Israeli politics since that fateful day has only become more hateful and divisive.
B'tikvat shalom / With prayers for peace,
"who will live, and who will die?"
The latest round of violence gripping Israel is leaving those who deeply love the country and care for its future feeling shaken and hopeless. In the past days, there has been an escalating series of attacks and counter-attacks, a vicious and deadly cycle of recrimination and revenge that is leaving both Israeli and Palestinian families broken and mourning. The seemingly improvisational nature of the latest round of attacks - apparently individuals acting on their own initiative rather than the work of any organized groups - only adds to the feelings of chaos and uncertainty, recalling the existential anxiety with which we begin the year just a few weeks ago asking, "mi yichyeh, umi yamut - who will live and who will die?"
We pray that the majorities on both sides of the conflict who hope for a peaceful and sustainable solution will not give in to despair or to the all-too-easy temptation to dismiss and demonize the "other." We who are looking and worrying from afar must affirm as a core principle the dignity and humanity of both Jews and Palestinians - a shared humanity that only makes the recent bloodshed and loss of life all the more tragic. In that spirit, I want to encourage you to read a blog post responding to recent events by Rabbi Hanan Schlesinger, an Israeli settler who helps lead a dialogue group that brings together Israeli settlers and Palestinians who have both suffered violence within their families. The difficult and sometimes painful work of Roots and similar organizations is often lost behind the bloody headlines, but the critical work of maintaining and building connections, acknowledging shared suffering, and making room for hope in the face of despair is crucial if Israelis and Palestinians will find their way out of this latest cycle of violence and to the lasting and sustainable resolution we all yearn for.
May the One who makes peace in the high places send peace to us, to Israel, and to all who dwell on earth, and may all the peoples of the land we call holy know tranquility and peace.
B'tikvat shalom / With prayers for peace
Marriage Equality in Pennsylvania - A victory for love and justice
Like many of you, I was thrilled to open my browser this afternoon and read the words "U.S. Judge Strikes Down Same-Sex Marriage Ban in PA." I am so profoundly happy that U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III has recognized that there is no place for hate or discrimination in our state's laws, which since 1996 had included a ban on legal recognition for same-sex marriages, whether performed in Pennsylvania or in other states. Pennsylvania was the last state in the Northeast that did not grant the same recognition to all couples who wanted to have their love and commitment formalized through marriage - until today. There may very well be additional legal challenges and wrangling before today's victory for marriage equality in Pennsylvania is finalized and secure, but I will celebrate this decision knowing that today, our commonwealth is one step closer to enshrining justice and equality for all its citizens.
B'simchah / In joy, Rabbi Joshua Waxman
P.S. Please consider joining me in signing this petition from Equality PA urging Governor Corbett not to appeal today's decision and to let marriage equality stand in Pennsylvania.
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