The Architects of Peace

Rabbi Rene’s weekly message to the KLS community

Do you remember the evening of the 4th of November 1995? It was a Saturday evening, and in Israel, there was a massive rally in Tel Aviv to mark the signing of the Oslo Accords.

I remember the 1990s very well. The atmosphere was one of hope for the future. The Berlin Wall fell in 1989, and it felt like democracy and freedom would sweep over all the world. And for us, Jews, the Oslo peace process was the promise of a brighter future, peace between Israel, the Palestinians and the neighbouring Arab countries.

But on this very night, Yigal Amir, a right-wing extremist shot the Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in the back. We know what happened next. Slowly, the peace process came to a halt. Slowly, but surely, the radical voices became louder. And today, in Israel, but also in many countries in the world, right-wing populists have the wind in their sails.

Israel is not an isolated country. What happens there is to a large extent an echo of what happens elsewhere in the world. Israel is also used as an excuse for some to hide their anti-Semitism. For others, it is an obsession that dictates their worldview.

At the risk of oversimplification, I would say that there are two worldviews among humans.

There those who believe they are special, exceptional, and of course superior and better than the others. They don’t understand that people may think differently than them, and they see themselves as the measure of everything. They have no doubt, and they are very vocal, sowing the seed of discord to impose their worldview.

On the other end, there are those who believe in peace, diversity, equal rights for all. They are progressive in that they want to participate in the betterment of the world. They are willing to take the risk of being different and accepting those who are so.

25 years after Rabin’s assassination, we need to work hard at turning the tide. We cannot accept a world that is more and more divided, more and more unforgiving.

And it starts with remembering architects of peace, such as Yitzhak Rabin

On Friday evening, we will mark the 25th anniversary of Rabin’s assassination by watching a video made by the students of the Leo Baeck Education Centre in Haifa. You will hear the next generation expressing their sadness, but also their hope for the future.

On Shabbat morning, Beiteinu will lead the family service online. I am very proud of them, and God knows how lockdown and restrictions are hard on young people. I like these moments when all the generations of our community come together.

Many of you have shown an interest in learning Hebrew in more depth. I want to take this opportunity to thank Dominque Scholtes who teaches Hebrew for beginners. I will start on Tuesday 17 November a Biblical Hebrew class. The only requirement is to be able to read Hebrew letters.

And remember, we will be here with you and for you during the second lockdown that starts on Thursday. We know what to expect, and we are ready. Do not give in to despair. A second wave during a pandemic is quite a common feature, so remember the Jewish proverb, “This too shall pass”!

You can watch Rabbi René deliver his message here: