Parashat Naso

Friday, May 21, 2021/10 Sivan, 5781
Parashat Naso Numbers 4:21−7:89

Dear Friends,

After two weeks of conflict, we are grateful that an Israel-Hamas ceasefire is finally in effect, and we pray that it holds.

These past two weeks have been painful. Many of us have loved ones in Israel or Gaza who feared for their lives as bombs fell, and violence sparked in cities from Lod to Jerusalem to Bay Yam, and beyond. All too many innocent lives were lost.

Even as this latest conflict comes to an end, we are left with the pain of all that transpired and the complexity of a situation with no easy solution. We are hurting because our people are hurting. We lament because so many innocent Israeli and Palestinian lives were lost.

If you need to talk about the conflict, please know that Cantor Ilan and I are here for you.

Some community members reached out to me to express frustration about one-sided media coverage and discussions. Sharing our love for Israel and its right to defend itself has at times been met with hostility. Criticism of Israel has likewise not always been appreciated.

In his latest blog post “We hold All of these truths,” URJ President Rabbi Rick Jacobs writes “It is… hard not to feel whiplash with the competing narratives of what caused this latest round of death and destruction. Too many people hold only the other side responsible while having little or no sympathy for their suffering and pain. But we Reform Jews believe that all of these truths can and should be held together at the same time.” It is possible to be a Zionist while also questioning Israel’s actions. It is possible to believe Israel has a right to defend itself while also calling out for Palestinian human rights.

This past week, the Union of Reform Judaism held two helpful webinar conversations on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, recording of which you can find here, Webinar 1 and Webinar 2. They featured insightful and thought-provoking comments from Vice President of the URJ for Israel and Reform Zionism Rabbi Josh Weinberg, Director of the Israeli Religious Action Center Rabbi Noah Sattath and Rabbi Rick Jacobs. I encourage you to listen to them to gain further insight into the past 2 weeks.

Likewise, the Hartman Institutes’ most recent podcast led by Donniel Hartman, Yossi Klein Halevi, and Elana Stein Hain, speaks to the future of Israeli-Palestinian relations.

The past couple of weeks have been difficult. We pray that this latest conflict has come to an end and that our leaders will have the courage to do what is needed to not only protect civilians but to also forge a path towards lasting peace.

Shabbat Shalom. May this be a Shabbat of healing and peace.
Rabbi Cassi Kail