Emotional Rollercoaster

Dear Friends,
These past two weeks, like these past almost five months, have been an emotional rollercoaster.  
I returned Sunday from my second trip to Israel since October 7, the fourth CJP solidarity fly-in in the past two months. We saw the impact our Israel Emergency Fund has made on thousands of lives, and we met with leaders, organizations, and “ordinary” citizens. They’re doing the physical, emotional, and spiritual work of healing and moving forward — individually and in community — even as they continue to fight this war and work for the return of the hostages.  
We visited the site of the Nova music festival, where more than 360 young people were massacred and kidnapped. We saw pictures of the faces of these sweet souls — there to sing, dance, and celebrate life — cut down in the prime of their lives. Visiting the site is like a pilgrimage to hell and a sacred responsibility. It’s important to remember the lives lost and the atrocities of 10/7, and to remember that for Israel this is not just a war against Hamas. This is a fight for the right to live, to dance, and to pursue peace, safely, freely, joyously.   
In that spirit, at the Nova site in the early spring you cannot help but be struck by the beautiful flowers blanketing the area. I was drawn to a sign with a quote from an Israeli song: “Haprachim yashuvu lifroach — the flowers will return to bloom.” A message of hope in a place of death and destruction.

Returning to Boston this week, I felt a similar juxtaposition. On Monday, I joined a gathering of local civic, cultural, and business leaders to watch the film Bearing Witness, the raw footage of the atrocities of 10/7. It was simply awful and sickening to see the death and depravity of which humanity is capable. There are many reasons why none of us should watch this film, and yet I believe it is important to witness and remember, especially in the face of widespread, antisemitic denial and disinformation. I am so grateful to everyone who came.  
You cannot imagine the emotional contrast when, just one night later, I joined hundreds of college students for the Ishay Ribo concert in Harvard Square. With gratitude to Harvard Chabad and other partners for co-sponsoring, I watched our next generation sing and dance to the music of the Israeli singer and cultural icon who has turned traditional Jewish prayers into hit songs. Ribo and his popularity, especially among young people, reflect the vision and promise of Israel as a source of Jewish spiritual and cultural renewal. To see so much Jewish pride and joy, knowing that just outside (literally) we are facing antisemitism and hate, gave me faith in our future and our next generation. The flowers will return to bloom.   

We are living through the most challenging time for Israel and the Jewish People since the Holocaust. We are also in the months leading up to Purim and Passover, holidays that remind us that the suffering and celebrating, trauma and resilience — the emotional rollercoaster — have been part of the Jewish story and the Jewish psyche for thousands of years.  
I am reminded of a quote from Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, which my friend translated from the Hebrew and shared with me. During Rabin’s last visit to Yad Vashem, commenting on the Mourners’ Kaddish and its emphasis on peace and life at Israel’s Holocaust Museum, he said:  
The joy of the Jewish people is always mixed with sorrow — the huppah with the broken glass underneath it, the dedication of a new house with an unfinished plaster as a remembrance of the destruction of the Temples, the Passover Seder and the bitter herbs. In Israel, the tears of Yom HaZikaron touch the circles of dancers on Yom Ha’atzmaut . . . The spark in our eyes may have dimmed, but not the spark of our life and faith. And it is precisely this faith that will carry us to the coming days — to days of memory and love, towards days of peace.

Amen, and Shabbat Shalom,  


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