We all have tasted bitterness, witnessed hate and viewed destruction. The loss of the 2nd Temple in ancient times, occurring on Tisha b’Av, is attributed to a society that bears witness to such enmity and does nothing to rectify the situation. As a community, a nation, we are currently guilty of such enmity, as well. It is not only that we turn a deaf ear to the victims and families of mass murder; mass murder which has become commonplace enough that the nightly news doesn’t report them all. It is that we are reduced to feelings of frustration and hostility because we do not believe we can do anything to significantly change the situation.
Taking a life comes in many forms these days. It is no longer relegated to the physical aspect of manslaughter. If one is ostracized from community, if one is shamed on social media, if one is ripped of their identity through rape or theft or personal damage, this loss of identity is taking life from that individual.
Where is our refuge? Adonai is our refuge. When each of us acts b’tzelem Elokim, in the image of the Divine. That is our refuge. Communal actions begin with individuals; one individual reaching out to another. Individually, we are a refuge for those in need and together the community becomes a haven for those who join together.
If we each consider during this month how we have failed to take the opportunity to lighten a burden, to turn a hate to a dialogue, perhaps to an understanding, to bear witness for empowerment rather than detriment or destruction, we will each enter the month of Elul with a lighter heart and an easier turning toward the holidays of repentance and repair.
When I turn on the news each day, I know I will find plenty about which to be depressed or angry. Before I do that, I will have a goal of taking steps toward connecting, finding ways to compromise, looking for projects with which to cooperate and taking a turn toward tikkun - repair.
May the rest of your summer be happy and light.
 (Deut 22:26) "Just as if one man jumped up and murdered his fellow, this [rape] is the same way." Why is the verse comparing murder to the violation of a betrothed maiden ... deadly force can be used to stop either, and one is obligated to be killed rather than transgress either. http://judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/60792/is-rape-considered-yehareig-val-yaavor 7.26.2015
 I heard on Friday, July 17, from more than one person in attendance, that their cares fell away when they joined us. The URJ would be happy – I think it would fall under their ‘audacious hospitality’ category.