JVP Rabbinical Council: “We call for an immediate end to the violence.”

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Rabbinical Council Statement

As U.S.-based rabbis, we are watching the crisis unfold, grieving so many hundreds of lives lost. We decry the senseless killing of hundreds of Israelis by fighters from Gaza on Simhat Torah, a traditional, Jewish day of rejoicing. The killing of civilians is always a war crime. We grieve Palestinian lives lost, in these days, and in the previous 75 years, during the ongoing destruction of Palestinian land by the Israeli military and government. And this case is no different. We call for an immediate end to the violence.

We are deeply concerned at the bloodthirsty warmongering statements made by the Israeli government promising to exact revenge on the two million residents of Gaza. The Israeli government is engaging in war crimes on top of acting against the interests of its own people when it flagrantly imperils the safety of Israeli prisoners of war and civilian hostages held in Gaza by abandoning them and risking killing them with these military attacks. We call for the immediate onset of peace talks between Israel and the government of Gaza. Our Torah is the Torah of peace.

We are dismayed at the Biden administration’s arming of Israel with the intention of enabling the current aerial bombardment and planned invasion of Gaza with the resulting deaths of many hundreds of Palestinians. We endorse the statement made by Jewish Voice for Peace which provides context for the current situation.

We deplore the stand taken by many Jewish organizations over the past couple of days unconditionally supporting Israel as it rushes to perpetrate carnage in Gaza. For some Jews the call for unconditional support for Israel, including sending increased military funding, is coming from a place of deep grief, fear, and anxiety; but we know from decades of the same that more weapons and more violence is not the answer. We call on our Jewish communities to join us in forging a Judaism that rejects vengeance, and stands with the struggle for Palestinian justice and liberation. We do this for the safety of Palestinians of all faiths and Israelis of all backgrounds.

To our Jewish and Palestinian communities who are heartbroken, grieving and fearful: we grieve whole-heartedly, broken-heartedly, with all of our beings, all of the lives lost this week. We do not deny anyone’s suffering; we hold our hearts open to feel it all. We grieve the decades of killing and displacement of Palestinians. We grieve the centuries of antisemitism and violence against Jews that fuel many’s belief that perpetrating this kind of violence is the only way to secure our people’s safety. Our grief, our memories, our imaginations, our stories, our visions for the future will not be coopted for the sake of endless war.

We who care for Palestinian, Jewish, and all peoples’ safety, are praying and working for this world. We claim Jewish tradition that has for millennia developed in opposition to empire, colonization, and nationalism. We are rooted in our understanding of justice as freedom and safety for all people, and we are creating and living into Judaism rooted in solidarities.

We look to a future of peace, justice, freedom and dignity.

This means, among other things, that Israel ends the blockade of Gaza, ends the occupation of the West Bank, takes down the walls, and dismantles the apartheid system.

We pray for a future of peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all.

A Prayer for this Moment, October 2023

Rabbi Alissa Wise
שִׂיםשָׁלוֹםטוֹבָהוּבְרָ כָהחֵןוָחֶ ֽסֶדוְרַ חֲמִים

May the One Who Comforts hold all those grieving and traumatized and frightened for however
long it takes

May the One Who Releases the Captive release all those caught and bound

May the One Who Makes Peace illuminate paths of peace for those seeing only paths of
violence and vengeance

May the One Who Loves Justice fortify us to reinforce our solidarities with all those who share
our vision of justice and dignity for all people

May the One Who Knows Hope instill in us the confidence to imagine wholeness, safety, and
freedom for all people

May the One Who We Need be there for us as we waver and struggle, as we are confused and
uncertain until we find solid ground once again

May the One Who Remembers allow us to hold in one hand 75 years of occupation,
dispossession and violence and in the other a future of peace, justice and freedom

May the One Who is Slow to Anger soften our hearts and our fists helping us to put down the
sword even at the height of the arc of our rage

May the One of Possibility remind us that a future of peace with justice is possible

May the One Who Awakens Us to Life hold us in our pain and vindictiveness until we set those
down for the sake of life

May the One Who Endures allow us to act for the sake of the coming generations

May the One Who is Without Limit expand our senses of what is possible as we reach for
justice, freedom and peace for us all.

May the One Who Knows Life is Precious help us to affirm life is precious

May the One Who Grants Peace, Goodness, Blessing, Grace, Lovingkindness, and Mercy grant
them now no matter how undeserving we are.


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