Our thoughts turn in sadness to Israel, where over the last two weeks four separate terrorist attacks have killed thirteen Israelis. I say thirteen Israelis and not thirteen Jews because some of those killed were Arab citizens of Israel. In Hadera, two young Border Patrol members were killed. One of them was a young Druze man. (The Druze, for those of you unfamiliar, are Arabic-speaking members of a small religion that is an offshoot of Shia Islam. Like Israeli Jews, Israeli Druze men are drafted into the military and many of them serve with distinction in the Border Patrol and elite combat units.) In B’nei B’rak, a mostly ultra-Orthodox suburb of Tel Aviv, an attack by two Palestinian gunmen was stopped by an Israeli Arab police officer, who himself lost his life.
A number of these attacks took place while the “Negev Summit” was going on in Sde Boker. Israeli’s Foreign Minister Yair Lapid hosted talks with the Foreign Ministers of Egypt, Morocco, the UAE and Bahrain as well as Secretary of State Antony Blinken. The goal of the terrorists was clearly to disrupt the summit and the normalization between Israel and much of the Arab world which it represents, but the Arab foreign ministers forthrightly condemned the murderous attacks. So did the leaders of the Arab parties represented in the Israeli Knesset.
Yair Rosenberg of The Atlantic recently published an article positing that the response in Israel to the current wave of terror marks a change in the integration of Israeli Arabs into the larger society and the acceptance of that fact by most Jewish Israelis. The article is worth the time to read. I hope Rosenberg is correct.
Rabbi Daniel Gordis also wrote in his Israel from the Inside newsletter about how Arab Israelis are being integrated into the Israeli public. He included a link to a fascinating video of the Rana Arab - Jewish Women’s Choir singing “Had Gadya” in Aramaic, Hebrew, and Arabic. This version of Had Gadya was written by the great Israeli singer-songwriter Hava Alberstein some years ago. It begins with the traditional text but then extends and expands upon it in a wish to, at long last, stop the cycle of killer and killed, victimizer and victim.
As a continuing reminder, The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington has established a Ukraine Emergency Fund to meet emergency humanitarian needs. You can find out more and donate here.
Our own Masorti (Conservative) movement has been active in Ukraine for decades with what was until recently a thriving network of congregations, schools, and camps. If you want to assist the worldwide Masorti effort in Ukraine and neighboring countries please give at this link.
As always, if I can do anything for you or you need to talk, please contact me at email@example.com or 301-977-0768 rather than through the synagogue office. Although I am working primarily from home, I am happy to meet you at the synagogue by appointment.
Rabbi Charles L. Arian