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41http://www.beth-israel.org/blog/2011/03/Rabbi-Lyon%27s-Blog---03_18_2011
Rabbi Lyon's Blog - 03_18_2011
03/17/2011 11:57 AM Posted by:

From the Desk of Rabbi David Lyon
March 18, 2011

 

Shabbat Shalom. It used to be easier to say. Nothing was looming around us except normal life events. Sure, there are challenges, crisis, even death that turns Shabbat into a salve to relieve our stress and sadness. There are also joys, achievements and births to remind us on Shabbat how grateful we can be. But, at this particular time, world events leave us nervous about what human beings are going to do about the disaster in Japan, and the unrest in the Middle East.

                Living in Houston, we are relatively spared from world events except for the concern we share for parts of the world where family and friends still live. We live in a node between the waves that upset others to the east and west of us. The Rodeo goes on and spring break continues. It gives us a sense of relief, but it should also give us a sense of duty. Unburdened by the crisis on the ground, we have the unique ability and freedom to respond in many ways.

                To the west of us, in Japan, people have been displaced without resources. Though Japan is not Haiti, people are people, and their sense of security has been shattered, too. Families are separated from each other; they are anxious as they pick up pieces of their lives that might never be made whole again. The URJ (Union for Reform Judaism) in conjunction with other Jewish relief organizations is collecting funds, all of which go to support the people of Japan. Go to urj.org, and contribute. It really does make a difference.

                To the east of us, in the Middle East, the fires still burn in countries seeking freedom, and the hate between enemies still rages. The recent murder of an Israeli family living in a settlement is the latest horror story that reveals the depth of the nightmare. A recent political pundit suggested that the root of it is “decades of Israeli occupation.” I couldn’t disagree more. His political framework is faulty. Occupation is an excuse. Hamas and Hezbollah want the west bank and Gaza; they also want the destruction of all of Israel. The larger tragedy of the murder on the west bank was the lack of outrage by the rest of the world. When is a murderer not a murderer? Apparently, it depends on who you ask.

                Beth Israel’s work on behalf of Israel continues. Please mark your calendar for a gathering of the Israel Advocacy Committee (all are welcome) on March 24th, 7:30pm, at the synagogue. In addition, we are already a group of ten who are going to the AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington D.C., May 22-24, 2011. For information, go to AIPAC.org, or contact Rob Shoss or Stanley Horn, chairs of our Israel Committee.

                Our relative quiet in Houston, affords us the privilege and responsibility to use our time to make a difference. Though we cannot accomplish all the work that is needed to be done, we are, as our tradition teaches us, “not free to desist from trying.”

                As Shabbat comes, find the words that express your gratitude for the life you have. The calm and rest that Shabbat provides us also prepares us to take up the work that awaits us. So, as we tune into the news don’t despair; rather, be inspired to contribute your part to the work we all share. Give. Help. Make a difference.

                From my family to yours, Shabbat Shalom.

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