Yesterday was supposed to be a day of joy.
In spite of early news reports that something was going on in Israel, I headed in to Brussels with news radio on, thinking of what I would say. I made a decision to adapt the prayer for Israel we say after the Torah service, aware that our Torah service was a special one, a celebration of the Torah and the joy it brings us, and a celebration of two wonderful women, a celebration of our new Torah leyners, and a celebration of two generous volunteers, our Kallat Torah and Kallat Bereishit. And we celebrated. I also got to meet a young couple after services preparing for their wedding next year and bristling with joy. Nothing could have prepared me for the news when I returned home. Death and destruction instead of joy and celebration. Many of my rabbinical colleagues in the US and elsewhere had decided to cancel services, unable to celebrate the festival of our joy – Simchat Torah – under such circumstances. My thoughts turned to close IJC members and friends who are in Israel – Yisrael-Abir, for example, Althay and Golan. I reached out to verify their safety with mixed success, but things remain very unstable. I searched for news of rabbinical colleagues who serve communities in the south. All safe but now both sad and angry. Sad at the unprecedented deaths and injuries, angry at the terrorists, angry at politicians distracted by personal ambition and greed. In our prayers we state time and again that we are all Israel. We are all Israel! Today we share the pain and horror of this attack and we share the fear of what will happen next. We also pray – and often with great joy – at the end of the Amidah that God will create peace for Israel and for all its inhabitants. Pray this prayer in your hearts, repeat it, sing it…
Rabbi Brian, October 7, 2023
And if prayer does not seem meaningful at this exceptional time, please consider expressing solidarity with your feet and attending demonstrations and other events in solidarity with Israel.