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“Allies Needed,” Rabbi Zecher’s Shabbat Awakenings

November 17, 2023 | 4 Kislev 5784

Welcome again to Shabbat Awakenings, a weekly reflection as we move toward Shabbat. You can listen to it as a podcast here.

It takes a tremendous amount of perseverance to be Jewish or part of the Jewish orbit. Throughout our history we have learned the hard way through pogroms, crusades, expulsions, and terrorist attacks that we must be strong in the face of adversity and challenge.

This week, as Jews and allies gathered in Washington DC, more than 300,000 strong, another message became loud and clear: we do not have to be victim to hate and terrorism. Instead we are resolved to ensure Judaism, Israel, and our history takes us into the future.

A colleague of mine shared this picture of one of her religious school students holding a poster he had made.

How impressive is his knowledge of Jewish history! But also as impressive is his insistence that we can prevail. I believe this to be true, but we cannot do this alone.

The gathering on Tuesday brought together not only Jews but also allies. Antisemitism, anti-Zionism, prejudice, bias, and hate for Jews is not a Jewish problem. It belongs to everyone. We all have to be part of sharing the solution.

So I ask you to seek out your friends and colleagues who are not part of the Jewish orbit. Invite them to tea or coffee. Go on a walk. Take them to lunch. Share what it feels like to be you in this moment of history. We may have different perspectives but we can also humanize the vitriol. We can create a relational moment that brings about empathy. Invite their help to turn the hate that has become so prevalent into that which connects us and brings us together. You don’t have to agree. You only have to express your hurt, frustration, and desire for them to understand and feel the pain you feel.

We know not everyone in the Jewish community is in the same place ideologically, but for one day this week, we were able to model how to stand together in the same place. Our member Bea Wilderman attended the rally and reflected on this beautiful achievement.

“Kathy Weinman and I started the day bright and early in the morning of Tuesday Nov 14th at Logan Airport. We were so excited to travel with hundreds from Boston and to stand with the Jewish people and March for Israel in Washington DC. It was a saga to get to the March (let’s just say the logistics were a mess). Nevertheless, when we finally arrived —  it was incredible. There were more than 300,000 people from across the US. We heard from the families of hostages, elected officials, and many other allies. The support for Israel was comforting. The crowd was huge and very diverse. We were from every corner of the U.S., every age, every political group, every type of Jew you can think of — we chanted “Am Israel Chai” — it was so beautiful. Worth the saga!”

We cannot stand alone as Jews, as diverse as we are. We need the broader community to stand with us, to understand what we experience, and to assist through their actions and conversations with others, change in the escalation of hate. It takes more than a village. It takes the pointed and specific request from each one us to friends and colleagues: “Help us.” “Protect us.” “Stand with us in a world filled with justice and compassion for each other.”

Shabbat Shalom!

I continue to value the many comments you exchange with me through these Shabbat Awakenings. Share with me what you think. Your email goes directly to me!

  • We gather at 6:00 p.m. for Qabbalat Shabbat onsite or  on ZoomFacebook Live, or stream on our website
  • Torah Study gathers onsite or online at 9:00 a.m.
  • Thank Goodness It’s Shabbat gathers onsite at 10:00 a.m. No registration necessary
  • Village Pajama Havdalah & Thai Dinner will be held at 4:00 onsite. Register here.
  • Gather online to say goodbye to Shabbat with a lay-led Havdalah on Zoom at 8:00 p.m.

Shabbat Shalom!

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