It has been quite the full month. The period of shloshim for all who perished on October 7 – including Hayim Katsman z”l – ends this Monday morning. This shabbat is the four week mark of this awful nightmare with so many layers upon layers of grief. The period of mourning keeps getting reset every day, every hour, every minute. The grief that comes from death, like water, can fill all available space in its given container – us. And it is compounded when realizing that the grief is so multidimensional. It is not just grief over the nearly 11,000 lives lost in these four weeks so far, but also the communal bonds broken, the relationships ended, the doors closed and locked, the hopes shattered, the binaries calcified, the trust lost.
I write this among such brokenness. The ruins that are being multiplied daily.
This week’s parasha is simply too spot on for me. I choose not to dwell for long in the tragic irony of Abraham pleading with G-d saying: “will you indeed sweep away the innocent along with the wicked?” No. I cannot hold that sort of irony right now.
Instead I will address those of us who are feeling like communal homes of ours have been or are being destroyed. In so many settings, I have been with others while we grieve the loss of spaces we once thought were a home for us. A family member, a friend, a co-worker, a neighbor, a rabbi. A social club, a professional association, a parent’s listserv, a social media account, an organizing space. Left and right I am seeing the breakdown and recalibration of individuals and communities as new boundaries are drawn, tent poles relocated, walls erected. Our communication and our capacity to hear and listen to one another – and hold the dissonance we are experiencing – can simply be too much.
In the parasha, Lot and his family, having been resettled after being freed from captivity, were now established in Sodom, their needs seemingly met. How fragile, though, home can be sometimes. It is not long before he is given safe passage to flee just as his new home is destroyed. And in his fleeing, he is told to not even look back.
The flow of Jewish life and Jewish communal affiliation is at times more and less fluid. Violence raging in Israel/Palestine often causes times of stormy fluctuation and flow. While some of us might ride the wave intentionally, not looking back, others can easily be swept up in the current and find ourselves adrift. Without mooring. I will repeat what I said on Tuesday to the Geogroup listservs:
…if you have a reflection on the last [four] weeks you would like to share – about the world, yourself, your orbit, or especially about Kadima, my words [or] actions – I really want to connect. Sign up on my calendar here or just be in touch. I have said some version of this to new folks at Kadima recently: “I am so glad Kadima is resonating with you lately. If Kadima ever stops resonating with you, please let me know. It is important that we meet each other where we are at and have opportunities to express when that isn’t happening.” So may that be true for anyone and everyone at Kadima, no matter how long you’ve been here.
There are so many Kadima members taking action. So so many. In so many different ways. Some as individuals, some as collectives. And while members of Kadima take powerful action, Kadima itself continues to move slowly and cautiously – wanting to find each other and ourselves as we go. Needing to hold the breadth of our anti-occupation tent, we have thus far opted for holding space for grief and mourning while also moving along our thinking while staying connected. On Sunday we will host a space for all Kadima members (and those considering Kadima membership) to discuss how Kadima can take action as a community – grounded in agreements that hold the nexus of our people and our values. Kadima has a brilliant history of agreement regarding Israel/Palestine through the eras. It is time to rediscover Kadima’s unique addition to the ecosystem of work being done for justice and peace in Israel/Palestine. We need you to ensure we do so not just with our full breadth, but also the depth only our full membership can bring. Together we offer something unique and important, and it will best be realized together.
I hope to see you soon – whether for Shabbat morning services tomorrow, lunch which follows featuring Baklava from Alida's Bakery, Sunday’s community meeting, or a learning session in the week to come. For now, shabbat shalom, especially to all those in Kadima who put their bodies on the line this morning in the name of a ceasefire. May we have healing and rest and may our courage be celebrated!