Less than a week later, I went to Washington DC to chant “Ceasefire Now” in the Rotunda of the Cannon Building, leading to my, and 400+ Jews and allies (and two dozen other rabbis’) arrest.
The following week, I was one of now 165 rabbis (and one of two in Seattle!) to ask “our communities to rise through our despair and our grief to save lives…to stop [the US from] supporting and enabling this nightmare…for a complete ceasefire now…[meaning:] no more bombing…no ground war…all Israeli hostages must be released now…a just and lasting peace in Israel-Palestine…[it] is the only way to prevent more death and destruction.”
And just last week, I spoke at a Jewish Voice for Peace non-violent direct action at the Seattle Federal Building – where many Kadima community members, along with friends and allies, locked arms to stop “business as usual” at the Seattle office of Sen. Patty Murray. I shared hopes for a just and peaceful end to the current violence and all that has enabled it, calling upon my grandmother’s wisdom and my daughter’s upcoming b’mitzvah torah portion: “will we stand idly by?”
I can still remember the moment that six of us from Seattle, many of us Kadima members, sat in Sen. Patty Murray’s Washington DC office on October 19. Each of the six of us had been arrested the afternoon before while chanting “ceasefire now” and singing lo yisa goy el goy cherev – nation shall not lift sword against another nation, from the prophets Isaiah and Micah. Sen. Murray’s Legislative Director began his response to us by telling us that, well, “ceasefire has become political.”
We cried. And then we continued to plead for “all life forms between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.” (Hayim Katsman z”l)
I will say this now: I am not still saying ceasefire as a political statement. I am saying ceasefire as a moral statement and as a Jewish statement. To me, ceasefire does not mean the destruction of Israel. Ceasefire does not mean no accountability for Hamas. Ceasefire does not mean ignoring the Israeli occupation. Ceasefire does not deny the right to defend oneself. Ceasefire does increase the chances of hostage return. Ceasefire does save the lives of innocents and children. Ceasefire honors the call of Palestinians and Israelis.
And while I will keep calling for it, I am also wanting to engage and to learn more. It is a tricky balance – to show up determined with a clear message, and also to listen, engage, and learn. It is a balance I am committed to. Our relationships are at the core of our power, the core of our ability to successfully transmit this beautiful messy tradition to the next generation, the core of honoring our ancestors. So, I’ll try to keep coming back to that. To me. To you. To us. I encourage us all to do the same, fwiw.
And I am reminded that Shabbat literally means “cease.” So, shabbat shalom and cease[fire] shalom as well.
Kol tuv – may all be toward goodness (Genesis 24:10),