For a link to the ceremony and my comments:
We opened with this song, a duet by two Israelis, one a Jew, Boaz Sharabi, andone an Arab, Valerie Hamaty:
يا ريت من السماء يمطر علينا الخير הלוואי מהשמיים יירד עלינו הטוב يا ريت يغيب الحرب ويجمعنا الحب سوى הלוואי שתיפסק המלחמה והאהבה תאחד אותנו يا ريت من شرق وغرب يضوي نجم اليل הלוואי שכוכב הליל יאיר על כולנו ממזרח עד מערב
If only-from the heavens will descend upon us the good
If only- would the wars cease and love unite us
If only- the star of the night would shine upon us all from east to west
Star Spangled Banner p 824
שִׁ֖יר מִזְמ֣וֹר לְאָסָֽף׃
אֱלֹהִ֥ים אַל־דֳּמִי־לָ֑ךְ אַל־תֶּחֱרַ֖שׁ וְאַל־תִּשְׁקֹ֣ט אֵֽל׃
כִּֽי־הִנֵּ֣ה א֭וֹיְבֶיךָ יֶהֱמָי֑וּן וּ֝מְשַׂנְאֶ֗יךָ נָ֣שְׂאוּ רֹֽאשׁ׃
עַֽל־עַ֭מְּךָ יַעֲרִ֣ימוּ ס֑וֹד וְ֝יִתְיָעֲצ֗וּ עַל־צְפוּנֶֽיךָ׃
אָמְר֗וּ לְ֭כוּ וְנַכְחִידֵ֣ם מִגּ֑וֹי וְלֹֽא־יִזָּכֵ֖ר שֵֽׁם־יִשְׂרָאֵ֣ל עֽוֹד׃
A song, a psalm of Asaph.
O God, do not be silent; do not hold aloof;
do not be quiet, O God! For Your enemies rage,
Your foes assert themselves. They plot craftily against Your people,
take counsel against Your treasured ones.
They say, “Let us wipe them out as a nation; Israel’s name will be mentioned no more.”...
May they be frustrated and terrified, disgraced and doomed forever.
May they know that Your name, Yours alone, is the LORD,
supreme over all the earth.
Chaim Nachman Bialik
Ir HaHaregah-The City of Slaughter( after the Kishinev pogrom, 1904) H.N. Bialik, "The City of Slaughter" in Complete Poetic Works of Hayyim Nahman Bialik, Israel Efros, ed. (New York, 1948): 129-43 (Vol. I)
The pogrom of Kishinev , Easter Day, 1903 - 49 Jews were killed, 92 were gravely injured, a number of Jewish women were raped. That number stunned and shocked the world. It spurred Bialik to write this elegy and spurred on the drive to establish a Jewish state.
קוּם לֵךְ לְךָ אֶל עִיר הַהֲרֵגָה וּבָאתָ אֶל-הַחֲצֵרוֹת,
וּבְעֵינֶיךָ תִרְאֶה וּבְיָדְךָ תְמַשֵּׁשׁ עַל-הַגְּדֵרוֹת
וְעַל הָעֵצִים וְעַל הָאֲבָנִים וְעַל-גַּבֵּי טִיחַ הַכְּתָלִים
אֶת-הַדָּם הַקָּרוּשׁ וְאֶת-הַמֹּחַ הַנִּקְשֶׁה שֶׁל-הַחֲלָלִים.
ARISE and go now to the city of slaughter;
Into its courtyard wind thy way;
There with thine own hand touch, and with the eyes of
Behold on tree, on stone, on fence, on mural clay,
The spattered blood and dried brains of the dead.
מַעֲשֶׂה בְּבֶטֶן רֻטָּשָה שֶׁמִּלּאוּהָ נוֹצוֹת,
מַעֲשֶׂה בִּנְחִירַיִם וּמַסְמֵרוֹת, בְּגֻלְגָּלוֹת וּפַטִּישִׁים,
מַעֲשֶׂה בִּבְנֵי אָדָם שְׁחוּטִים שֶׁנִּתְלוּ בְּמָרִישִׁים,
וּמַעֲשֶׂה בְּתִינוֹק שֶׁנִּמְצָא בְּצַד אִמּוֹ הַמְדֻקָּרָה
כְּשֶׁהוּא יָשֵׁן וּבְפִיו פִּטְמַת שָׁדָהּ הַקָּרָה;
וּמַעֲשֶׂה בְּיֶלֶד שֶׁנִּקְרַע וְיָצְאָה נִשְׁמָתוֹ בְּ“אִמִּי!” –
וְהִנֵּה גַם עֵינָיו פֹּה שׁוֹאֲלוֹת חֶשְׁבּוֹן מֵעִמִּי.
A tale of cloven belly, feather-filled;
Of nostrils nailed, of skull-bones bashed and spilled;
Of murdered men who from the beams were hung,
And of a babe beside its mother flung,
Its mother speared, the poor chick finding rest
Upon its mother's cold and milkless breast;
Of how a dagger halved an infant's word,
Its “ma” was heard, its “mama” never heard.
O, even now its eyes from me demand accounting.
What would Bialik write now, with a Jewish State, and with 1200 murdered in their homes, over a hundred kidnapped. He bemoaned that in his day, the descendants of the heroic Maccabees cowered in fear—today, we have our Maccabees- yet they fell before rag-tag amateurs, in a pogrom far, far worse.
These have been harrowing days for us, even as we sit here, hoping we are safe in this country. But even so, many of us have real skin in the game, through family and friends in Israel.
Our grandson, Eitan, is now in Israel; he was starting on a college program, and was full of excitement. Now, his dreams are in abeyance, and the family is struggling to find him a flight back home before the real war starts.
Our nephew, with his daughter, and friends, was at the Rave festival just the evening before, and, by chance, they had to go back home. They returned the next day, only to here the sound of shooting , and turned back before it was too late.
We have family and friends, and I am sure many of you do who live within shooting distance of Gaza. We have children of our nephews and nieces now on the front lines, in combat fatigues, awaiting orders to move forward. It is very scary.
While we are encouraged by the strong support from our President and from the leaders of the European nations, we are, frankly scared by the announcement that a Hamas leader declared this Friday “a day of Global Jihad” and another spokesman stated” the entire planet will be under our law: there will be no more Jews or Christians”.
We are dismayed, that in addition to the usual white- supremacists, skin-heads, and Nazis cheering Hamas now, professors, academic departments, and numerous student organizations, have been cheering Hamas, without a single tear being shed ! Your Starbucks Barrista will now serve you Hamas flavored coffee, by instructions of the union!
This Shabbat, we began our reading of the Torah cycle from the Beginning- from Bereshit—it is striking how primordial themes still echo with us today.
Rashi asks an unusual question, and gives us an unusual answer:
Since the Hebrew word for “ In the Beginning”, Bereshit” does not mean in”In the Beginning”, why does the Torah start with a grammatically awkward for, “ B-Reshit”- “In the Beginning of”--of what? of Something? Of Nothing? Of Everything?
Rashi , a thousand years ago, looking at an unusual phrase, now looks at what is happening in the world—Christians fighting Muslims for the control of the Land of Israel , and quotes a R. Yitzhak ( possibly his own father):
For should the peoples of the world say to Israel, “You are robbers, because you took by force the lands of the seven nations of Canaan”, Israel may reply to them, “All the earth belongs to the Holy One, blessed be He; He created it and gave it to whom He pleased. When He willed He gave it to them, and when He willed He took it from them and gave it to us” .
The accusation of Jews as stealing the land of Israel is as ancient as the hills!
We barely get out of the Garden of Eden, when one son of Adam and Eve, that is Cain, murders the other son, Abel. Brother against brother. (Bereshit Rabbah 22:7)
About what were they quarreling?
They said: ‘Let us divide the world between us.”…
Here is one part of our quarrel: who gets the land of Israel.
This one said: ‘The Temple shall be built in my domain,’ and that one said: ‘The Temple shall be built in my domain,’
Here is the second part of our quarrel: who gets the Temple Mount in Jerusalem
They were quarreling over [who would wed] the first Eve.
In other words, sex was the motive.
What did Hamas do? As their did their counterparts , ISIS, in Syria, and Boko Haram in Nigeria, they too, raped their captives.
So much for brotherly love.
Our portion ends : the earth was filled with violence- the Hebrew word for violence is “Hamas”.
It is the cognate for the Arabic word for “zeal.” I can’t help but make the connection, because Islamic Resistance Movemen ,Ḥarakah al-Muqāwamah al-ʾIslāmiyyah ,which creates the initials: Hamas, which the movement chose precisely because it indicated their “zeal”.
Tragically, we are in a violent neighborhood.
The anti Zionists are defending Hamas, saying that the Palestinians have been occupied for 75 years, and have acted up out of desperation. But the violence against Jews did not start with any occupation.
My great-great-grand-father and mother were murdered in their home in Zfat in1896, long before the Zionist invasion.
The ancient Jewish community of Hebron, dating back many centuries, was attacked in 1929, nearly 70 killed, and the community expelled. The excuse was that Jews were planning to take over the Temple Mount- the exact same excuse made by Hamas to justify its attack.
Gaza City had an ancient Jewish community, with many notable figures. Yet in 1929, they were forced to leave the area due to violent riots against them by the Arabs. Following these riots, and the death of nearly 135 Jews in all, the British prohibited Jews from living in Gaza to quell tension and appease the Arabs. Again, this was long before the “occupation and Oppression” by the Zionist settler colonialist.
From 1948 till 1967, Gaza, The “All Palestine Protectorate” was under their brothers, the Egyptians. Their terrorists then, Fedayeen, killed some 400 over the years 1950 to 1955 and prompted the Suez War.
In 1993, we had the Oslo accords, and the establishment of a quasi-independent territory under the Palestine Liberation Organization. That did not stop the terror attacks. In 2005, Israel pulled out unconditionally from Gaza strip, but that did not stop the attacks. They merely become more intense and more sophisticated.
These are not the acts of a desperate people, but of a people with an ideological conviction , that even as they grind their own people into suffering and misery, they are carrying out Allah’s will and bringing on the final conquest by Islam. This was declared in their original Hamas Covenant of 1988:
“Our struggle against the Jews is very great and very serious.”
“The Prophet, Allah bless him and grant him salvation, has said:"The Day of Judgement will not come about until Moslems fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Moslems, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him. Only the Gharkad tree, (evidently a certain kind of tree) would not do that because it is one of the trees of the Jews."
In 2017, they “ sanitized” their covenant for western consumption: Where it said Jews, it now says “ Zionists” and it claims that persecution of Jews was solely a European problem.
Now, Zionists are used were the old “ Elders of Zion” used Jews:
“ The Zionist project does not target the Palestinian people alone; it is the enemy of the Arab and Islamic Ummah posing a grave threat to its security and interests. It is also hostile to the Ummah’s aspirations for unity, renaissance and liberation and has been the major source of its troubles. The Zionist project also poses a danger to international security and peace and to mankind and its interests and stability.”
The new covenant is simply larded with all the catch phrases that liberationists and the anti-colonialists of the west love: colonialism, occupation, discrimination, oppression and aggression in the world. All of those lovely words were proven false in the actions of the ruthless terrorists who killed and slaughtered, maimed, raped and kidnapped men , women, and children, the elderly and the newborn.
( For a background on the connection between Nazi ideology and the Islamist Supremacist teachings of the Muslim Brotherhood and Al-Qaeda ( and by historic connection, Hamas, ISIS , and the Khoeminist regome of Iran, follow this link: https://www.tabletmag.com/sections/history/articles/the-nazi-roots-of-islamist-hate. The slaughter of innocents, even of one's own people, is a key tactic of radical movements of left and right.)
Yes, this is the brave new world of Hamas.
I am personally comforted by the display of national unity that Israelis have been showing. I have received videos from family showing Israelis , secular, religious, and yes, the Charedi, ultra Orthodox, delivering food and supplies to the vulnerable communities on the battle front. There is now a government of national unity, and former political enemies, who had said, “ Never”, now talk with each other.
Oh, God, please don’t make us get together when there is a disaster. Make us get together when there is peace.
Please join us in this prayer, shared with us by our Southern California Board of Rabbis:
Prayer in Time of War in Israel
Composed and offered by the Steering Committee for the Board of Rabbis of Southern California
Eloheinu V’Elohei Avoteinu V’Imoteinu, Our God and God of our ancestors. You know that the Jewish people are one nation with one heart, and today that heart is broken. With the grim news of so many of our sisters and brothers in Israel killed, wounded, and kidnapped, we turn to You.
Harofeh Lishvuray Lev, the healer of broken hearts, be with our brothers and sisters who have been taken captive and with the families of the victims. Watch over the hostages, break their bonds, redeem the captives and bring them out from darkness to light. Comfort the families of all those murdered and bring them under the shelter of Your wings. Bring complete healing, healing of body and healing of spirit, to all of those who are wounded, those wounded in body and those wounded in spirit. To the entire Jewish people who were terrorized, bind up our wounds and may Your divine presence bring us healing.
Tzur Yisrael, Rock and Redeemer of the people of Israel, Bless the State of Israel during this time of war and tragedy. Guide its leaders and advisors with Your light and Your truth, and help them with Your good counsel. Shield it with Your love and spread over it the shelter of Your peace.
Shomer Yisrael, Guardian of Israel, strengthen and bless the soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces and the security forces, who stand guard over our land: on the land, in the air, and on the sea. Deliver them and crown their efforts with triumph. May God cause the enemies who rise up against them to be struck down before them. May the Holy Blessed One, preserve and rescue our soldiers from every trouble and distress and send blessing and success in their every endeavor.
In the face of war, God, protect and preserve us, and restore peace and wholeness to our hearts.
Oseh Shalom Bimromav Hu Ya’aseh Shalom, Aleinu Ve’Al Kol Yisrael.
And let us say: Amen.
Misheberach for IDF
El maleh for the victims ( from Yom Hazikaron)
Agnon’ s introduction top of p 524.The Mourner’s Kaddish lead by Holocaust survivor, 101 year old Joe Alexnder.