June 19, 2024 /

From Selichot to Shavuot: ( Almost) A Year of Conflict

Selichot and Shavuot bookend our programmatic year, and while our current programmatic year is still going on, we are already hard at work planning a wonderful year ahead. While working on next year’s calendar, I’ve been thinking a lot about last year and planning our current calendar. I think it might be an understatement to say that this year turned out nothing as we had expected. Nothing could have prepared us for what was in store f following the horrible catastrophe of the October 7th attacks. We have seen growing animosity and hate on college campuses. We have seen growing threats toward Jewish institutions. We have seen growing animosity in our towns. And yet, we have also seen great beauty. We have seen strangers come to our defense. We have seen hope restored as hostages are returned. We have seen our community leads speak out against antisemitism.


A phrase that has come up for me multiple times this past month is a phrase from the Talmud: “Eilu v’eilu divrei Elohim chai-im.” “These and those are both the words of the living God.” In the story, there are two houses of study, Beit Hillel and Beit Shammai, the House of Hillel and the House of Shammai. Beit Hillel argues that the Halachah (Jewish law) should be one way, and Beit Shammai argues the opposite. The argument lasts for three years when there is a Divine voice from above that says, “These and those are both the words of the living God. However, the Halachah is with Hillel.” You can have two opposing thoughts or tensions, and they can both be true. You can stand strong with Israel and demand our hostages back. You can believe that Hamas needs to be stopped for Israel to survive. You can believe that this war is a just war. But you can also question if everything was done in a just way. You can also be concerned about innocent victims. You can also have reservations about PM Netanyahu (just like many Israelis do) and his actions in this war while also believing that the ICC’s desire to have him arrested for war crimes is outrageous. As President Biden said, “Whatever these warrants may imply, there is no equivalence between Israel and Hamas.”


We have had quite a year with very few moments to come up for oxygen and attempt to process what we have been through. It’s why we are running a special program to close out our programmatic year during Tikkun Leil Shavuot called, “Eilu v’Eilu – These and those are both the words of the living God.” Join us as we come together on June 11th at 7:30 to process the trauma we have been through, whether on the global stage or just in our backyards. It is a safe space for us to be together in a caring community to vent frustrations, ask questions and attempt to provide some measure of comfort for what we’ve been through. It will be a powerful evening, one that I hope you will join us for.