My family and I have been in Israel throughout the past ten days. I write this note to you recognizing the geographical and cultural distance between Israel and the U.S., and at the same time feeling a closeness, a pull, and a pain that yet again call for connection, for a sense of comfort, of shared purpose, and of community. The events that took place in El Paso and in Dayton this weekend shocked, upset, and saddened me deeply. I have been trying to make sense of them and to consider our role and mission in the face of hate and carnage.
I write to you today as a rabbi and an immigrant. With my wife Yael, I chose to build our lives, raise our children, and anchor our home in this country. I have also committed myself to helping others build their lives, families, and homes in and inspired by Judaism for the sake of the good and of the sustenance of ongoing life (Deuteronomy 22:7.) I have done so with faith in the American promise of opportunity and equality to all regardless of origin, faith, ethnicity and culture, race, and gender. More
In the early days of July we will be marking the beginning of the month of Tammuz in the Hebrew calendar – a time we must dedicate to the building of understanding and solidarity among us, to bridging our divides, and to the promotion of civil and constructive discourse. In a world characterized by increasing polarization and extremism, we must be able to internalize, fully understand, and explain that the greatest threat to our collective well-being is not “the other side,” however misguided or wrong we believe its adherents may be, but the phenomena of polarization, increasing factionalism, and the de-legitimization that separates friends, relatives, and neighbors. But, you may ask, why is Tammuz the moment for us to focus our energies on bridging divides, building understanding, and strengthening our community? More