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Yesterday's Events

01/16/2022 07:06:35 PM


Rabbi Ted Feldman

Good evening and Happy Tu B'Shvat - Our New Year of the Trees

It is challenging to celebrate a time of gratitude for the natural gifts which we daily enjoy since our weekend has been marred with the events in Colleyville, TX yesterday. Many of us, I am sure, were glued to the news reports and heaved a sigh of relief when the hostages escaped to safety. While they didn't experience physical injury there is, no doubt, the effects of trauma on them and on their community. If I dare say, the traumatic effects extend far and wide within the Jewish world.

For us in Sonoma County, this was the second targeted occurrence in the past two weeks. A portion of the Holocaust Memorial at the Santa Rosa Cemetery was vandalized. While the police have yet to characterize it as a hate crime, it felt as such to the Jewish community.

Both with yesterday's event and the cemetery vandalism, the outpouring from the general community has been comforting. Certainly the police, FBI, and all involved in Colleyville deserve gratitude for the lengthy and persistent efforts to secure the safety of the hostages. Couple that with the many statements of concern and support from governmental leaders, across party lines, are also a source of comfort.

That being said, we as Jews also know that the ugly head of antisemitism has been protruding more and more into our world as the political and moral divisions within our country deepen. Hatred is on the rise during this pandemic...against Blacks, Asians, the LGBTQ community, and, yes, the Jewish community. At the same time, crime has increased in our nation's cities and more and more people are fearful of venturing out. While we might think that is good during omicron, we would be deluding ourselves to thank the petty thieves and gangs for helping us to keep the infections lower.

What is important during this tumultuous time is to maintain our connections with each other and make sure we are known in our community and concerned about its general welfare. In generations past and for good reasons, Jews often felt it was better not to be out there in the world. I would propose that we need not be a mystery to the world but we need to stand proudly as Jews with our diverse community around us and participate in making our world better. In addition and as we have in the past, we should avail ourselves of the trainings available from our police department and other agencies on how to be prepared for such events.

There is, of course, another level and I am speaking of faith. For those whose hearts and minds find strength in reaching out to the spiritual essences of Judaism and our faith in God, that, too, is a source of comfort and resilience.

In that spirit and with a deep sense of gratitude that the hostages at Congregation Beth Israel found freedom from their torment, there is a blessing we recite upon hearing good news and good news this is:

Praised are You, Ruling Spirit of the Universe, whose presence is integral when good happens.

Rabbi Ted Feldman

Thu, June 1 2023 12 Sivan 5783