What We’re Hearing

Last week, we gathered together as a community for Towards Shleimut (Wholeness).  We may not be in Israel, but our souls are still torn and rent, seeking healing and wholeness.   We shared and listened, we studied and learned, we wrestled and found solace in community.  This is some of that we heard.

We need to look for a safe place and what is safe now a days, where is safety?  … It’s chilling to think that Israelis are not safe to travel anywhere now.  … I fear for family in Israel, and I wonder how can the world be so full of hatred and antisemitism.  … Going to Israel today, it’s not like going on a mission, it’s a different kind of travel in which “life is a journey, death is a destination” … Tragedy follows us all the time; it’s always over our shoulder.

And, yet, it is a great mitzvah to always be happy, and to make every effort to determinedly keep depression and gloom at bay.…. This became immediately relevant when we heard about the massacre in the midst of the holiday, and wondered can we dance on Simchat Torah knowing what happened to Israelis?  … How long after a massacre does humor comes back – 19 days (which is when SNL broadcast again after 9/11) … Humor is a remarkable tool for healing, when one is depressed. … We understand that tragedy is part of life, but we shouldn’t get caught up in the downward spiral.

And, how do we find equanimity (balance) at this time?  … As Victor Frankel said in the midst of the Holocaust – no one can rob me of my freedom of choice.  … We choose how to respond to our situation; it doesn’t not define us.  …  And, what can support us?  Find a routine. Find a community.  Focus on what you are grateful for.

Yet this middle space between anguish and joy is never still … To be comfortably settled is such a hard thing for us Jews to do. … A Jew cannot go anywhere and just enjoy the scenery. … Everything is laden with meaning, memory and purpose. 

We walk through the world illuminated by our hopes and disappointments … As a progressive Jew who was always there to support others causes, I now feel alone and unsupported. … 

The world can become lonely and it is full of fear. But, as Rabbi Nachman of Bratzlav observed (and every Wednesday evening in Jerusalem Jews sing) “life is a narrow bridge and the main thing is not to fear [so much that you fear everything].”

[Editor’s addition:] As we walk the lonely road feeling torn and rent, and still seeking to hold to our Jewish values, we can take inspiration and guidance from the command of God [Micah 6:8]:
Only to do justice
And to love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God

[Quotes were curated from the ongoing conversation at Towards Shleimut.  They were organized and edited slightly for clarity.]

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