This is such a difficult, anguishing, heartbreaking and troubling time for so many reasons. The ongoing war as a result of Hamas’ brutal terrorist attack on Israel two weeks ago continues to weigh on our hearts, minds, and souls. At the same time, we observe how this war is being portrayed in the media: Israel is being vilified and demonized as a colonial oppressor, an instigator of terror. In reality, this has nothing to do with the plight of the Palestinians: this is all about Hamas’ using vicious tactics to try and achieve their mission to eradicate Israel and the Jewish people off the face of the earth.
We see an increase in antisemitism and antisemitic incidents around the world. We also see an increase in hate crimes against Muslims around the world as well. We worry because those whom we thought were our friends and allies have not raised their voices in support. Or, they don’t understand the true and complicated history of the situation and they echo the cries of those who are against Israel, those who are against Jews. We feel an increased sense of anxiety and worry about our safety and that of our friends, family, and community.
In this week’s Torah portion, Parshat Noach, God provides a rainbow as a brit shalom, a “covenant of peace,” once the flood has finished. This covenant of peace is to serve as a reminder to both God and humanity that never again should humankind devolve into such baseless hatred that our world is destroyed. A rainbow is comprised of every color, just as humanity is comprised of people of all races, religions, genders, political identities. Our world is more beautiful when we live together in harmony, safety, security, and equality than when we wage war against each other.
My colleague Rabbi Rachel Timoner, Senior Rabbi of Temple Beth Elohim in Brooklyn, NY, wrote a wonderful wise and articulate Op-Ed ealier this week in the New York Times. I share it in its entirety here because she has so much sage advice for us all: