Read full article here >

Usually lively and often fractious, political conversations are set aside among the large community of Jews in the city.

Amichai Lau-Lavie, an Israeli-born rabbi who has been vocal about both his criticisms and his love for Israel, said it was time to put aside divisions and focus on shared grief.

“Right now people are hurting, and we just want to hold each other’s hand and let the divisions be in the back,” he said. “Our political position now makes no difference. Left, right, pro-occupation, anti-occupation, don’t know about it — we’re hurting and we’re shocked and we’re horrified and we want Israel to get through this.”

At Rabbi Lau-Lavie’s small, progressive congregation, Lab/Shul, members held a Zoom conversation to discuss, among other things, how to reconcile their grief and anger with their criticisms of Israel’s government.

Speaking a few days afterward, Stuart Himmelfarb, 71, who runs a small Jewish nonprofit agency, said he had been very critical of Israel, and of religious Jews going to the Temple Mount, which is also the site of one of the most holy mosques in Islam.

“All of that, on Saturday morning, got parked,” Mr. Himmelfarb said. “The blame game as well.” His focus now, he said, was “How in the world can the hostages be saved?”

For some in the congregation, the attacks have meant wrestling with internal conflict. Sarah Sokolic, Lab/Shul’s executive director, said she grew up being taught that Israel was good and Palestinians were bad, and has worked for the last two decades to promote more nuanced, progressive views.

Now, she said: “I find myself asking, How can I be a Zionist and be a person who does anti-oppression work at the same time? How can I teach my children about power, oppression, equity, empathy, otherness while also teaching them that Israel is our homeland, and that Israel has a right to exist and defend herself?” As she wrestles, she said, “I find myself leaning into my Zionist roots.”

Read full article here >

Lab/Shul logoLab/Shul Israel/Palestine Response
Today: Lab/Shul voices in the New York Times + Times of Israel