This community is no stranger to anti-Semitism and the very real violence that rhetorical hate and fear can generate. So we gather… in anger, in fear, in sorrow, in mourning for our people, our land, our generational trauma. We gather because we need to be together. We need to know that the human soul rejects the inhumanity of terrorism that we watched unfold half way across the world and that we watched celebrated in some corners of our own country and state.
Jews are 16 million people - .2% of the world population. More than 7 million of us, nearly half, live in Israel. It is not then surprising to find that for most of us, there is a direct relation or at most 1 degree of separation from what happens in Israel. Many of us are overwhelmed and confused. How could this have happened… again? Israel, a country deeply divided 9 days ago, is now one body, one soul and one motivation… survival. Hamas is a terrorist organization with a mission, a charter, to annihilate Israel and the Jewish people. And by the way, the same charter, the Hamas charter, notes that the Islamic world view completely contradicts the idea of a secular Palestinian state as well. This war does not advance the Palestinian cause. Terrorism is not resistance. Israel has the right to exist and fight against terrorism. We mourn for the loss of lives to terrorism.
I have been on countless conferences, webinars and constant contact with organizations both here and abroad since the end of Simchat Torah. Our hearts are with all the civilians, nationalities, families and individuals that have been effected by this war. Make no mistake, though Jews are the target, there are Israeli Bedouins, Druz, Kurds, Arabs, Palestinians, Christians, Bahai and others. Additionally, the last I heard, citizens of 49 countries are caught up in the chaos created during this past week of terror. All will be effected by the outcome.
Beyond headlines and geopolitical fighting… are real people … parents, children, grandparents, teachers, doctors, cooks, plumbers, the women and men we each encounter everyday who were just going about their lives, who were simply living. The party revelers, peace party revelers, the families starting their days, those filling synagogues for holiday attendance, the end of our High Holiday season; their lives will never be the same. We pray that they will find a way to go forward with strength, courage and a resolve to make the world a better place.
We are a people who strives for shalem, completeness - and shalom, peace. We are taught rodayf shalom, pursue peace. We raise our voices every day seeking joy in the world and in the pursuit of God’s light. We offer gratitude for the newness of each morning and for being held in protection, redemption and mercy each evening. We know we could not do so without our friends and supporters. If you are clergy of any religion, please rise as you are able and remain standing. We could not continue without the aid of our government and law enforcement. In particular, we know that our beautiful, historic building would not be standing without the assistance of the FBI, the Pueblo Sheriff’s Department and the local police. If you hold a governmental office of any type, represent law enforcement, assist in legal protection or security, please rise as you are able and remain standing. We could not continue without fellowship, friendship, family both born and chosen. If you are Israeli, know Israelis, have lived in or visited Israel, support Israel and her existence, please rise as you are able.
We thank you all. You are our strength. Please be seated.
We continue in prayer. Ribbon shel Olam, Sovereign of the world, today is Rosh Chodesh, the beginning of a new month. We should be singing songs of praise. But our hearts are heavy and our mouths utter, “open for us and our leaders the gates of wisdom, ah-nay-nu/answer us, hoe-she-ah-na/ save us.”
When the Hamas slaughter began, we had just begun to pray for rain, proper rain, in its season. May the rain wash away the blood and cause flowers to burst forth so a new day, a new season, a new life can begin. One with long termed, livable solutions throughout the land so that all the people, all the people, can follow a new path forward. Only then, can peace stretch across the land.
Hashkivenu Adonai Eloheinu.... Lay us down to sleep in peace, Adonai our God, and raise us up to life; spread over us the shelter of your peace.
I invite you to sing with me.