Perhaps you have been following the kidnapping of 3 boys in Israel. One was age 19 and the other two were only 16. There was steely hope that some terrorist group would claim responsibility and demand money or the release of some of their jailed compatriots. But unfortunately it was not to be and their bodies were found yesterday. Apparently they were murdered soon after they were kidnapped.
The reactions have ranged from, now we must kill all terrorists to now Israel must get out of the West Bank to, what I find more realistic, so long as each side is in such pain neither side will recognize the other’s pain and no progress can be expected.
A few years ago a friend of mine went to live in Israel for a year. Her American eyes were opened to the completely different culture of that region. She told me, “Here, to turn the other cheek is seen as expressing weakness and you can’t negotiate from a place of weakness. Here you must return a blow for a blow or you will not be respected.”
Wow. Yeah, that’s really not American cultural thinking at all. So I sit in America, safe, and know that I cannot judge the actions of those who are under attack daily. And by that I mean everyone in that anguished land.
What I do know is that Jews are responsible for one and other. Now don’t fall over in a faint. We are all responsible for each other AND the sad reality is that very few non-Jews will stand up for a Jew. (Did you know that the great American songbird, Kate Smith, received death threats for singing God Bless America BECAUSE it was written by a Jew? That was less than a century ago.) So to all the non-Jews reading this – thank you. I know you would not sit idly by as your spouse, children, in-laws were threatened. Non-Jews in the Jewish family means that more people will, like Kate Smith, stand up and say, not on my watch.
All I ask of you is to say a prayer (I don’t care whether it involved “God” or not, you can just address yourself to the great cosmic wonder that is the universe). A prayer, or a directing of your thoughts to this: May the families of these boys be comforted. May they know that we all offer them our hearts. And may the people who did this terrible deed be healed to the point that they realize that it was wrong. May they come away from the brink of a despair so God-awful that murder seemed reasonable.
Pour out your own love on a world that so very much needs it. Need an idea? Look at this —
A woman wrote:
Who can begin to recount the kindness and giving we have witnessed over the past difficult 18 days?
This Friday, wherever you are, please do an act of kindness or giving in memory of Our Boys and the lives they led.
One catch – please do the act of kindness to someone for whom it is difficult for you to be kind. We all have them. Please do something generous to the neighbor you dislike. Do something kind to your coworker with whom you have virulently differing political views. Give something to the very needy family member you can’t stand. It doesn’t need to be big, and it doesn’t have to be given in public.
In memory of Naftali, Gil-ad and Eyal.
Let’s fight the unkindness in ourselves. Begin here, in our own hearts and minds.
May peace come to all of us, everywhere and may it begin with us.