A shining example
Editor?s note: These words from Rabbi Rosenbaum were inadvertently omitted from the pieces sent by community rabbis in the August 4 edition of JTNews.
In the Mourner?s Kaddish, we open with the words ?Magnified and sanctified be God?s name.? Why? It?s because when a person of goodness and compassion leaves this world, there is a loss to God as well as to ourselves.
God is infinite in power, yet God?s name, God?s impact on our world, depends entirely on us. Family and friends have spoken of Pam Waechter?s ability to lift a person?s spirits just by the lilt in her voice when she said ?Hi? in the morning. We?ve heard of her ability to galvanize our energies to work together for inspiring causes ? Jewish and humanitarian. What a beautiful person she was!
Whenever there is an act of hatred in the world, it calls into question God?s influence and diminishes God?s reputation. Even more importantly, God has lost one of God?s most effective agents in Pam Waechter, a person who devoted her life to realizing God?s dreams. God is surely wondering now: who will direct My campaign, now that Pam is no longer with us?
We are created in God?s image. When human cruelty tempts us to deny that, Pam?s shining example is a reminder. May we restore God?s name in her loving memory.
Rabbi Jay Rosenbaum
Herzl-Ner Tamid Congregation
An open letter
To the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle and Seattle Jewish community:
On behalf of the board, staff and national leadership of Jewish National Fund of America, please accept our deepest concerns and heartfelt sorrow for the tragedy at the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle. We convey our sympathies for the loss of life, and the concern that all will fully recover.
The national Jewish community has been united these past few weeks since hostilities broke out in Israel ? we all have been working around the clock to do what we can to support Israel. Often we forget the hatred and ill feelings that lurk in our own communities.
Please know that we stand with you and your leadership as you move forward to return to strength and security. The JNF national and Seattle boards and offices are available to help you in any way we can ?you can count on us to stand by your side during this difficult time.
Please convey our sympathies to the family of Pam Waechter and to those who were injured, as well as all those affected by this trauma. We are heartbroken that someone as bright and outstanding as Pam was taken by such a dark and terrible act. We pray for a speedy recovery to health and well being.
President, Jewish National Fund Seattle
Ronald S. Lauder
President, JNF of America
Waging a permanent peace
My heart is heavy with sorrow and sympathy for the Federation employees. Every one of them are experiencing a sense of trauma most of us can?t fully understand.
I am heartened when I see how many came to the Federation building with flowers, candles, notes, and stones. Our Arab ? Christian and Muslim ? friends and others have shown so much support and in response, and many Jews are saying they also want to reach out to our Arab friends. I want to encourage those who are receptive to take the next step and reach out to the Arab community. In the Puget Sound area, there are already in place groups of Muslims, Christians and Jews doing this important peace work together.
The Middle East Peace Camp for Children was created five years ago as a collaborative Jewish-Arab project in response to 9/11. We are still going strong and have built a community of children, teens and adults who have reached over that chasm of hatred and myths to see each other as human and become friends. We created the environment in a natural way, which takes longer than sitting down to quickly discuss current issues, but our slower process has paid off. Last Thursday evening we gathered together for a Peace Vigil. There were no political debates, just human beings coming together wanting peace with justice for both sides, wanting the suffering to stop.
Does our small group in Seattle count for much? It does when we see our campers, counselors, and even the adults coming to realize that war does not have to hold us captive and force us to choose sides, other than the ?peace with justice? side. In five years, we have struggled on the tightrope of politics and violence and destruction, yet we have managed to stay the course toward goals of peace and friendship. Local, state, national and international leaders/elected officials are aware and supportive of MEPC.
Are we naﶥ? Some people may think so, but when I saw two of our counselors (a Palestinian American and a Jewish American) at the peace vigil stand in front of the crowd and declare together, arm in arm, how meeting Jews or Arabs have changed their lives, I am so proud. These two young women are natural leaders. I know they will take their youthful experiences and become peace and justice leaders. I believe that building stronger Arab-Jewish relations could eventually bring down leaders who want to wage war.
Let?s be open to the possibilities and not get manipulated by hate and anger.
Co-Director, Middle East Peace Camp
Standards of honesty
While we welcome expressions of condolence from all sectors of the Seattle community, we need to hold these contributors to a standard of honesty.
Jeff Siddiqui writes that he does not want the attack to upset the ?relationship of trust and respect? among the local faith communities. He and I debated in front of an audience at Seattle University about three years ago. He opened his remarks by loudly proclaiming: ?A Jew moves to the West Bank, and kicks an Arab out of his home!?
Really, Jeff? In the West Bank we find Arab and Jewish towns, most of them exclusively populated by one or the other, especially after the latest Arab violence. If a Jew moves to Efrat, do they kick an Arab out of Abu Dis?
That statement is not true and never has been true, but Jeff planted it in the guts of a room full of students at one of our most prestigious colleges. Every time they hear about Jews moving to Israel they will respond with anger.
I see that Rabbi Ted Falcon has a new radio program with Jamal Rahman as one of the hosts. In a letter he wrote to the Seattle Times (July 31), Rahman defended Arab violence against Jews, since any people living under ?occupation? will respond the same way, and gives us this tidbit from the revolt of the Indian people against British rule in 1947: ?The occupied, blinded by rage, responded with violence.?
Really? This revolt was led by Mahatma Ghandi, a man known for non-violence. The revolt was carried out by peaceful acts of disobedience. In order to justify the demented, sadistic acts of Palestinian Arabs against Jews, he re-writes the history of India to back him up! One is left to wonder why Rabbi Falcon considers this man a fitting co-host for a program dedicated to truth and peace.
The attack on the Federation was not senseless. It was a logical response to the torrent of hate and incitement pouring from the Muslim world and their supporters, some of whom were given space in our Jewish newspaper. While we welcome this dialogue, let us demand of all contributors that they accept responsibility for their words and actions both in and out of the JTNews.
I so want to thank Martin Jaffee for his refreshingly thoughtful and reasoned perspective on the Jewish Federation tragedy (??A Muslim American mad at Israel,?? August 4). Mr. Jaffee has seen the true nature of the crime and has traced it to our own American-bred internal demons. He does not, as so many are doing, link the crime to international events. Naveed Haq has more in common with the crackpot who shot doctors at abortion clinics in the name of pro-life not so many years ago than he does with Hezbollah.
The Seattle Jewish community has been hurt by the shootings. The tragedy was oddly juxtaposed in the news with the alcoholic tantrum of an equally disturbed individual who, when caught, scapegoated Jews. It was easy to see an impending jihad in all of this. However, it is important to keep things in their true context and avoid giving in to alarmism.
Thank you for your coverage of the Solidarity with Israel rally. It was sweet with a touch of bitter. A co-sponsoring group took a center position with many signs proclaiming ?Ceasefire now.? This was not solidarity with Israel ? it was opposition to Israel! Ceasefire was not what Israel was pursuing at the time of the rally. The offending organization knew that, and chose to disagree. Similar themes were expressed by the protesters at the rally but they were at least made to stay outside the core of the rally. Diversity may have its place, but to disagree with the policy of Israel at a Solidarity with Israel rally, and at a time of war when IDF are in action defending and protecting Israel, serves only to encourage the enemy.
Perhaps next time there is a Solidarity with Israel rally, all the signs and all the speakers expressing anything other than solidarity with the existing policy of Israel at the time should be banned from participation, or at least asked to stand with those who protest.