Sunday, August 2, 2009

Response to Last Night's Terrible Events in T.A.

We just commemorated Tisha B'Av, a dark day designed to remind us of the results of causeless hatred. And we've seen those results again last night in Tel Aviv, with the horrific killings at a social club frequented by youth from the GLBT community.

The irony here is that Israel has become increasingly a haven of tolerance for the GLBT community, despite the protestations of the religious authorities. (See "Can gay friendliness boost Israel's image?" - JTA). This Friday's Gay Rights Parade in Tel Aviv is scheduled to end with Israel's first public gay wedding. In recent months, there have even been marketing campaigns to draw gay tourists to Israel.

It is reassuring that Orthodox leaders have condemned last night's attack. (See the latest reactions from Ynet). The Chief Rabbinate expressed shock and outrage at the Tel Aviv shooting at a gay youth center Saturday evening, calling it "an unthinkable, vile crime." In a statement published Sunday the Rabbinate said that, "When Moses saw a Jew beating another Jew he called him evil. This is all the more true when a Jew murders a Jew."

The ruthless murder of innocent youths, is an unimaginable defamation of God's name, especially if it was done in God's name. We don't know that for sure at this moment, but it's an ominous occurence. Below is the immediate response of the Israeli Progressive (Reform) Movement, along with a moving column from Ha'aretz. May we soon live in a world where such hatred will replaced by an eternal, boundless love.

Maybe this murder will shock Israeli society into taking more concerted efforts to extend a canopy of acceptance over all its citizens, no matter what their beliefs or orientation, and to, at long last, guarantee basic human rights for all.

Israeli Movement for Progressive Judaism's Response to GLBT Shooting

The Progressive Jewish communities in Israel bow their heads in sorrow for the loss of life and the pain of the wounded in the Saturday night shooting in the GLBT Community Center in Tel Aviv. The possibility that this shooting was a hate crime is appalling and sends a shockwave through our communities. It serves as a reminder of the destructive forces of hate and incitement that sadly still exist in our society.

We carry a prayer in memory of the victims and wish a speedy recovery to those wounded. We add to this prayer the necessity to continue to promote tolerance in Israeli society, expose hatred, and remain dedicated to the difficult struggle against discrimination, hand in hand with the Gay community in Israel.

We look to the arrival of the days that will embody the vision of these verses from the Book of Psalms: "There will be peace in your walls, tranquility within your homes. For the sake of my brethren and friends, I wish peace for you."

To read the IMPJ's full response click here


Bradley Burston / A straight's prayer for young Israelis shot for being gay

For Liz Troubishi, 17, and Nir Katz, 26, of blessed memory, and for the recovery of the 15 young people wounded late Saturday by a gunman in a Tel Aviv club for gay teens.
Lord, teach me to stand naked before you And, in so doing, learn the meaning of modesty.

Let me stand naked, which is to say, stripped to my humanity, And mourn these young people shot For having chosen to practice Their own humanity.

Cause me, Lord, to shed this defective armor, Which we call clothing, respectability, convention, The mask which we mistake for loyalty to tribe. The mask which keeps me from seeing the face behind the mask of the tribe we have come to call enemy.

At the close of this dark anniversary, this time when tradition tells us, the worst of calamities were wrought by sinat hinam, hatred unbound, hatred for its own sake, teach me what I need to know about my true enemy.

Force me to see that what I am so certain that I hate, the clear, familiar targets of my fury, are already inside me.

Help me heal of this contagion, this cruel disease which scars and hardens the soul, which cores and blackens and blinds the heart, this affliction which feeds on self-righteousness and the conviction that God plays favorites, that the person whose behavior and appearance, and ways of speaking and dancing and loving are foreign to me, has less right to a true self than I.

Rock me awake, O Lord who invented the mosaic, the patchwork, the universe. Force me to see the miracle of every life on the threshold Of what we have come to know as Real life.

Let me know that in the beginning, real life is created through ahavat hinam, love unbound, love unfiltered, love unselfish, love shorn of armor and unkindness and judgment and ancient rage.

Lord, whose business it is to give life, shock us, cajole us, manipulate us, bring us to heel, force us in this terrible moment to know the enormity and the necessity of chesed, lovingkindness. Lord, whose great gift and whose most murderous creation was the human being, help us find the way to see the human behind the mask of the person we have learned to know as the enemy of our way of life, and, in doing so, help us, the mourning, the remnant, those whom tragedy has in cruelty and in lovingkindness left alive, teach us to honor the slain by honoring the behavior and appearance and speech, the dancing and the loving of those doing nothing more banal and nothing more extraordinary, than living a genuinely real life.

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