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Rabbi Yitzhak, September/October 2014

So many emotions are stirring as I write this newsletter message. Today there is a cease-fire that may or may not hold. Hope and despair sit side by side in my heart. They take turns speaking, but in truth the last several weeks have not given much of a voice to hope. Israel has been shown for its great strength and its shocking vulnerability. Hamas has been shown for its cruel callousness and wicked tactics. Innocent and tender lives have been destroyed in Gaza by a terrible combination of elements. Young Israeli soldiers have lost their lives in battle. What can hope say to all that we have seen?

My heart turns to our spiritual cycle for some guidance. Elul, this month characterized by S’lichot, prayers of repentance, followed by Tishrei with its Days of Awe, gives us time for introspection, self-critique, Teshuva.

This year we have to ask ourselves some very hard questions as we search our souls in the shadow of war. Our prayers of confession for wrongdoing are said in the plural. We ask forgiveness for the mistakes, the miscalculations, the missed opportunities, the shortcomings that found expression through our actions, inactions, our speech, and our silence. The entire Household of Israel, whether in Israel or the diaspora, shares in responsibility for our collective spiritual condition. Even though we recount our mistakes through prayers spoken in the plural, we each as individuals must search ourselves to ask what we can do differently going forward. What can I do to better serve the Source of Life? We must ask the personal questions about our own life’s contribution to perpetuating a human condition that fuels destructive behaviors and war.

I want to suggest that every one of us who has been touched by the pain of this war do an act of Tzedakah that moves our collective reality to a more wholesome place. I want to ask you to consider giving some Tzedakah to an organization that represents healing from the pain and loss we have suffered. One particular organization in Israel that I believe most directly gives a voice to hope is Hand in Hand, an Israeli school system that is completely bilingual with Hebrew and Arabic, has a faculty of Arabs and Jews, and is educating its student body toward cultural appreciation and friendship.

If you can use a little hope, go to the Hand in Hand website and see what the creative side of human potential looks like:

May this coming year be a time in which we at last experience the Blessings of Peace,

Shana Tova, Rabbi Yitzhak

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