Thursday, November 20, 2014

Reflections on the murders at the Har Nof synagogue in Jerusalem

It is telling about the nature of the Jewish people in response to terror when those in the Jerusalem neighborhood let alone in the shul that was attacked this week respond to media inquiries by saying that ‘we go back to the business of living.’ It is practically impossible to fathom the outrage, anger and desire for revenge that must be pulsating through the veins of Israelis in this most recent barbaric action.  We read reports of Israelis, definitely shaken to the core of their souls, yet still able and willing to live and not give in to the terrorist’s goals.
At the outset I want to stand in solidarity with my rabbinic colleagues in condemning these murderous acts and extend my personal condolences to the families who lost their loved ones in this terrorist attack. There can be no justification or excuse for this kind of abominable action. I hope that all of us will share our thoughts with our national elected leaders including our congressman and senators.
Media reports show video footage of observant Jews at this Jerusalem synagogue praying in the streets. They wait for the Messiah. They are believers in their theology with a deep seated faith turning to God for strength. They do not call out to destroy Arabs and Palestinians.  They do not summon the faithful to carry out an Intifada against the Palestinians in East Jerusalem. They do not call for a Jihad against all non-Jews and chop off heads. They mourn and grieve. They pray and even dance through their grief knowing that God is listening and giving them consolation.
Their martyrdom is not to walk through mosques and Arab storefronts and blow themselves up because God is great. Jewish martyrdom is about enduring the pain of exile and the pain today of terrorism. It is the courage to resume life knowing one has sustained a serious wound to their body and soul that distinguishes our martyrs from those of the radical Muslim terrorists.
Tragically we have seen these kinds of despicable actions many times in the past. Do we ever get used to or accustomed to the brutality?  What will be the consequences of these young men’s’ crimes? Will Israel build a security fence? I hope not. Jews in Jerusalem remain vulnerable since there are no barriers constructed between East and West Jerusalem. Anyone can drive anywhere they want to in Jerusalem. As always there are more questions lingering from these events than answers. I pray that the city will never be divided due to fear.
Are there Americans who enter the fray of Israeli- Palestinian politics saying, “This is what Israel gets for its policies in the territories”? Others will remain silent because they know the hypocrisy of the position that says, ‘I am a friend of the Jewish people but I just hate Israel.’ Are all the academic associations who condemned Israel and the religious organizations which supported the Boycott Divest and Sanction Israel declarations now rejoicing in the same way that Palestinians do in Ramallah and Gaza City at the so-called martyrdom of two murderous cousins from East Jerusalem?
Four Rabbis and an Israeli Druze policeman have entered eternity. The bullets and knife wielding terrorists did not care whether there victims would be rabbis or an Israel Druze police officer. Their hatred and dedication to their cause blinded them to the basic values that are supposed to be universal. Human life is sacred. “Whatever is hateful to you do not do to another”( Talmud Shabbat). “You shall be holy for I the Lord your God am holy” (Lev. 19:19).
We will say kaddish for the deceased and pray for the speedy recovery of the wounded. May God accept the victims of terrorism in his Heavenly embrace? May Israel resist the pressures to respond with vengeance and may it remain on the moral high ground. May God bless the memories of the departed and sustain them in our hearts and souls and, finally, heal those recuperating from their wounds. Zichronom L’vrachah-May their memories be for a blessing.

Rabbi Bloom

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