“Dusk in October 2023” and “The Israeli Flag Has No Red Stripes” by Rabbi Alex Lazarus-Klein
November 2, 2023
Rabbi Alex Lazarus-Klein
Rabbi at Congregation Shir Shalom in Buffalo, NY
At Ritualwell’s weekly “Holding Each Other” virtual event, Rabbi Alex Lazurus-Klein read two poems, one written during the Second Intifada and the other composed in the harrowing days following October 7.
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Members of Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation in Evanston, Ill. — one of the movement’s oldest congregations, and one where the conversation about Israel had long proved polarizing — have shown that such respectful engagement is possible, maybe even necessary.
Over the past two months, the congregation has leaned into Reconstructionist values by emphasizing the community’s voice over the rabbi’s and embracing complexity and nuance. Following a process that lasted for about three weeks, entailing thousands of emails, two board meetings and feedback from more than 200 members, the congregation adopted a statement steeped in Jewish values, that declared “All parties must stop the killing to create the conditions for lasting peace.”
So much about this time continues to be heart-breaking and soul-rending. Here in the United States, far removed from the front lines, one of the things that has been most painful for Rabbi Isaac Saposnik over these last few weeks has been the animus with which members of our Havaya family are engaging with one another – primarily on social media.
Rabbi Deborah Waxman explores the stories of Genesis, as well as contemporary thought, in a search for “wellsprings of empathy.” This teaching points toward means of resilience in the extreme uncertainty of the present.