Reflections from Rabbi René – What can we do to find peace?

We would like the situation to be different

We are witnessing with great worry a new round of violence in Israel and Palestine. More people wounded, more death, more people afraid, and so much anger and violence. It is like a pressure cooker that sometimes erupts, and then calms down, without solving any of the causes. Of course, you read here and there people who have the perfect solution to end this endless cycle, from those who blame Israel for everything that goes wrong, and those who claim that we cannot trust the Palestinians as partners for peace. The same arguments are presented; the same blame is thrown in the public arena. And nothing changes. As Jews, we would like the situation to be different. We would like our unique Jewish country in the world to live in peace and not to be entangled in such an ethical conundrum, how to keep democracy alive when part of the country is an occupied territory.

The only way forward…..

The truth is, the roots of this conflict are deep, ancient, very complex – and very few so far have had the courage to propose another way out of this situation.  On both sides, some have lost their lives when they suggested a path to peace. It is indeed easier to hold a Manichean vision of the world; with good people and bad people, with conflicting narratives that deny the other any right to be here. And yet, both camps, if they are really serious when they claim to long for a solution, won’t avoid the difficult questions. Who are you? What is your story? What is the benefit of keeping a conflict open? What do I want to hide behind this anger? How did I wrong you? What can I do to find peace with you? If I don’t see in you the face of a human being like me, with hopes and fears, with expectations and despair, how can I hope to live one day with you on the same piece of land? The only way forward is to have these difficult conversations and to truly listen to the voice of the other.

Shavuot – bringing light back to the world

As a Jewish community, we have such encounters with ourselves when we ask these questions: what do you believe and why? What makes you proud of being Jewish? How can you be a better person in the wider world? The next to come is the festival of Shavuot that begins on Sunday evening. This year, Progressive Rabbis have decided to come together and to offer a night long study. In Hebrew, it is called Tikkun Leyl Shavuot, which means “the reparation of the night of Shavuot”. It is believed that when we study Torah, when we get closer to the source of our identity and spend time to understand our place in the universe, we can be part of this process of repairing the world by bringing back to it the light that shines forth from the Heavens above.

“peace dove” by Cornelia Kopp is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0