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  • Writer's pictureRabbi Jeffrey L. Falick


Last Friday night our sanctuary was packed as we took the opportunity of gathering to express our hopes for peace even as we mourned terrorist slaughter of civilians on Simchat Torah Shabbat.

While we were united in our pain, we may be less unified as we enter the uncertain future. With Israel mobilizing for what will surely be a prolonged war, many of the Jewish world's long-simmering divisions will undoubtedly emerge. The same will happen in our Humanistic Jewish communities. Certainly all of us will mourn the loss of innocent Palestinian lives. We are Humanistic Jews, after all. But there will be those among us who fervently oppose Israel's response, others who will view it as a just war, and still others who will feel tremendous ambivalence, torn between their love of humanity and their feelings that a military response is necessary or justified.

As I have learned since becoming a Humanistic rabbi, there are few issues that divide Humanistic Jews more than Israel. Yet after more than ten years serving our community, I have also learned that we are committed to the value of conducting our debates with consideration and respect. Unlike many other synagogues that have been afflicted with the ills of incivility that plague our greater society, we know how to do disagreement right. It is one of the most powerful gifts of our common dedication to Humanistic Jewish values.


Speaking of values, at our next Shabbat celebration we will explore the topic of "Living Our Humanistic Jewish Values Every Day." Our Program Committee Chair Dr. Bruce Hillenberg has put together a small panel of CHJ members to get the conversation started. Following that, all who are present will be invited to share their own perspectives.

Last Friday following my presentation and at my request, Bruce helped to frame the opportunity to share our feelings about the Hamas attack. He took the first turn by reading this beautiful poem he wrote which happens to reflect many of my own feelings:

"Somber thoughts from a Humanistic Jew vicariously wounded by the Israeli trauma."

I Am Outraged!

At the savagery.

At simple explanations.

At the intensity of hatred.

At the wishes we did not exist.

At the images of evil.

At the thoughts of those left behind.

At the destruction.

At the forgetting about the Holocaust and a history of antisemitism.

At religious extremists of any flavor.

At any people thinking they are more favored or special.

At narcissists and sociopaths who make our lives miserable.

At the problems humankind still has in embracing those different than us.

At the knowledge that people will go to bed tonight with tears and fears.

At the thought that I will leave this earth one day with a loss of hope.

I Have Gratitude!

For family, friends, and people of good will.

For generosity, courage, and mutuality.

For logic, evidence, and knowledge.

For flowers, bread, wine, music, dance, and song.

For my CHJ family of choice.

For the support that Israel has received.

That there are people of good will in Israel who find a way to a more productive and cooperative existence.

That there are people who believe that the best sea allows all boats to rise.

That there is hope in despair, evil, and trauma.

That our people are strong.

That is the legacy of our people.

I am outraged, but I will never allow my gratitude to be taken from me.

I know we as a people will never allow that to happen either.


Finally, I want to recommend a news article summarizing the Michigan Jewish Community's various responses. It is from Michigan Advance, an outstanding independent news source, written by journalist and CHJ member Jon Arking. (There's a couple of quotes from me in there, too). CLICK HERE to read it.

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