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Congregation Beth Israel

Bangor Maine

Made in Tel Aviv, Israel by Virtuti-D
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November 2015 – Rabbi Siemers

Dear Friends,

As I write in mid-October Israel is reeling from an outbreak of assaults against Jews.  Those given to gallows humor have taken to calling the attacks “The Lone Wolf Intifada”, because even as the attacks are seemingly individual there is little doubt of official and unofficial coordination.  The mood, though, is mostly one of terror as people are afraid to move freely even in familiar neighborhoods.  This is a grave moment for the State of Israel and the Jewish people.

I was very affected by one episode.  In Beer Sheva, police arrested a fourteen year old girl at the North Railway station, near the University.  She had gone missing and her family found a note on her Facebook page saying she was going to Jerusalem to become a shahid – a martyr.  Her parents went to the police who captured her en route.  On one side, the story fills one with despair.  When we think of teenagers and Facebook, declarations of martyrdoom are far from mind and that there are people whose lives are so terrible and twisted is deeply depressing.  I don’t think that the despair of the Palestinians is Israel’s doing, even so, it is sobering to contemplate the desperation of the Palestinian people.  We should do all that we can do, and Israel does much, to assuage the suffering that leads to such anger while knowing that there are limits to what any human being can do for another..  

To the other side, the actions of the parents raise a little hope.  I don’t think they called the police out of a special solicitude for Jews or for Israel – in my imagination they hate us as much as  their daughter does.  Yet for all the hate, they loved their daughter’s life more than her death and they did not give her life over for the cause.  If there is hope it is not that we will be reconciled to the Palestinians, but that we will reach a just settlement with those who wish to live.  In all of this, I believe that most Palestinians want to live and love their lives as do we.   We cannot give up on them, our future in the land depends on a peaceful accommodation with them even as the harmony that is our deepest desire is elusive.      

In this difficult time our love, concern and prayers are with our brothers and sisters in Israel.  May God watch over them and protect them, and may all who walk in darkness know light and peace.


Rabbi Bill Siemers