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In good times and bad

During the night of April 14, the windows of our synagogue were shattered and a nasty inscription was scribbled on the wall (“Vandals attack synagogue in Israeli sister city,” April 21).

Afterwards, beautiful letters of support kept arriving to my e-mail address from all over the world.

We speak a lot about our global community, but here was proof that for our people this is not just a modern phenomenon — it is the way we have always bonded. It is part of our sacred value system: to be there for one another, “Kol Yisrael arevim zeh-bazeh.”

I felt proud to be part of this ancient and unique culture and people; I felt uplifted, encouraged, and strengthened in my conviction that we will continue to do our good work and do everything we can to prevent such acts of violence.

Here in Israel all of us are now masters of our destiny. We, the citizens of this country, share the responsibility of caring for the well-being of one and all. We can’t look over our shoulders and blame others for what we bring upon ourselves. We have to seek and find out why these things happen and ask ourselves how to stop them from occurring.

As our entire congregation stood to welcome the Shabbat on Friday, April 15, we were joined by many who came to share our sorrow and show their support. The mayor, Nahum Hofri, and one of his deputies spoke about communities needing to work together in Ra’anana. Amir Shacham, representing the United Jewish Communities of MetroWest New Jersey (with whom our community as well as other communities in town have partnerships), spoke about the unwavering support MetroWest has of our work in town. Rabbi Gilad Kariv, executive director of the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism, spoke of the challenges and plans he sees facing Kehilat Ra’anan. Their words were comforting and encouraging.

But perhaps most unique of all was the attendance of two well known local rabbis, both of them leaders of big Orthodox congregations in Ra’anana. Both are dear friends: Rabbi Seth Farber’s youngest daughter attends our preschool class and Rabbi Daniel Beller and I are partners in a Beit Midrash learning project we have begun in town. They came to be with us and stayed for the first part of the service. I was given permission by Rabbi Farber to read a letter, written and signed by eight Orthodox leaders in town, who stood by Kehilat Ra’anan and condemned the act of violence against us.

This was an unusual show of communal togetherness and I would like to believe that it is due to the continual work we all do together in town, quietly and slowly, step by step.

Your letters of support will only encourage us all to continue developing the path of joint education and friendship. We will remain strong in our conviction that pluralism is the goal we need to uphold in town and in Israeli society.

And, yes, we need your support of this important work and appreciate your ongoing efforts to stand by this goal and help us achieve it.

Israel is home to all Jews. We all have a share in the ancient biblical vision of seeing our people grow strong upon this land. Our strength will only be solid if our society is able to give voice to all Jews who accept the shades and varieties of our tradition and the communities created along these differences.

Thank you for being with us during this difficult time. Thank you for being with us in good times, when the routine of hard work is what keeps us going, and the courage to do it rests both upon the belief we have in what we are doing, as well as upon your belief in us.

Rabbi Tamar Kolberg
Ra’anana, Israel

The writer is religious leader of Kehilat Ra’anan, a Progressive (Reform) synagogue in Ra’anana.

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