Yesterday afternoon our time it was announced that a ceasefire had been agreed to between Israel and Hamas to put an end to the fighting of the previous 11 days. At 5 o’clock this morning I listened to the news on Israeli radio (it was noon in Israel) and the ceasefire was holding. The Kerem Shalom border crossing between Israel and Gaza was once again open and trucks were crossing from Israel into Gaza bringing relief supplies for the civilian population.
During the same news bulletin, it was also announced that the Israeli police had arrested several Jewish Israelis who had allegedly committed acts of violence against Arab citizens of Israel during the last several days.
When I was growing up in the late 60s and early 70s there was a popular poster with a drawing of a flower and it said “war is not healthy for children and other living things.” In this week’s parasha we find the Birkat Kohanim, the Priestly Blessing with which God commanded the descendants of Aaron to bless the Israelites, a prayer which we say during every repetition of the Amidah to this day. It ends with “may the Lord lift His face up to you and grant you peace.” If for no other reason than for the sake of children on both sides of the border, let’s hope that the ceasefire holds.
On a personal note, on Sunday morning I plan to drive north to New Jersey and New York to visit my father, my stepmother, and my brother who I have not seen since well before the pandemic started. I plan to stay overnight and drive back home on Monday. This means that there will be no Virtual Lunch Monday afternoon. It also means that you will not receive an email from me on Monday morning.
For those of you who have loved ones that you have not been able to see for a long time, I hope that you get to do so soon.
As always, if you need to talk or I can do anything for you, please contact me via email at email@example.com or via phone at 301-977-0768 rather than through the synagogue office as at the moment I continue to work mostly from home, although having been vaccinated I am available for in-person meetings in my synagogue office by request.
Rabbi Charles L. Arian