Thursday, January 8, 2009

My letter to the congregation in advance of the trip

What can one person do?

The situation in Israel and Gaza can be overwhelming: overwhelming in the amount of human suffering, overwhelming in the complexity of the military and political situation, overwhelming in our inability to find effective ways to make a difference and help bring about peace, coexistence and healing. In the face of all this, as your rabbi there is something small that I can do.

On Sunday night I will be returning to Israel for four days as part of a small group of rabbis and lay leaders associated with the Masorti (Conservative) movement to visit the towns, cities, and kibbutzim most directly impacted by the current violence on the Israeli side of the border. Our task will be hizzuk (emotional strengthening). We will affirm that our friends and colleagues are not alone and that we in America are willing to share risks with them (if only for a limited amount of time). We share a common destiny with the people of Israel and visiting Israel in times of stress is one way to make that conviction concrete.

While I am in Israel I will try to share my thoughts and experiences (and photographs) with the community through a blog page I have set up: I am new to this, but it seems like an interesting way to post quick reactions and get feedback.

I thank Rabbis Zeff and Bernstein for picking up extra work during my absence next week, and I thank the congregation for their steadfast commitments to both Israel and to peace. The position many of us hold on the Israel-Palestinian conflict is nuanced and not readily reduced to sound bites and slogans, but it is a reflection of deep understanding and concern. First and foremost we want to help the people at the center of the conflict know that we care. I hope this upcoming trip is a small step in that direction.

B’shalom, with hopes for peace.

Rabbi Leonard Gordon

1 comment:

  1. Dear Rabbi Gordon,

    Thank you for making the trip and for sharing your love, commitment and concerns with us all. That is all very brave of you personally and professionally. I'm excited to hear what you'll see and feel.

    Rabbi Anita Steiner, formerly at GJC, is in Ashkelon and I read today a posting/email by her about the effects on daily life of having rockets repeatedly land on your own town. People don't make omlettes anymore since sirens interrupt so often; people are afraid to take showers or do anything which might make them miss the sirens, every bit of every day is affected by the closeness of bombs and death. The letter was a reminder of how impossible it is for us to know the experience of others in such situations.

    I am sure that we will learn much also from what you write, and I look forward to your stories of people and places, to give us a notion of the everyday in such a sad sad 'situation' for all sides in this.

    Have a safe and fulfilling journey, May you be blessed at each moment.

    David Ferleger