Rabbi London Shabbat Message

Next week, I will be leaving for a one-month sabbatical in Jerusalem, where I will be on a fellowship at the Shalom Hartman Institute. Throughout July, I will be studying with rabbis from North America and Israel and all denominations. Together, we will be learning with the Hartman faculty—rabbis, and academics renowned for their scholarship and engagement with ethical issues of the day. I am delighted and honored to have the opportunity to study at this esteemed institution.

This is a difficult but important time to be in Israel. I have not been there since October 8 of last year, and I am eager to spend time with family, friends, and colleagues, all of whom have been traumatized by the attacks of October 7 and by the war that has ensued. My time in Israel will, of course, include visiting with friends from Kibbutz Kissufim, whom we at Beth Emet have been supporting since their community was attacked on that fateful day eight months ago. They will soon relocate from their temporary home at a hotel to homes in the Negev town of Omer, where I will visit them. I look forward to sharing news from my visit when I return to Beth Emet in early August.

One of the greatest challenges of recent months has been grappling with moments of promising news against the backdrop of ongoing war and uncertainty as to whether we are on a path to greater peace and security for the Jewish people, for Israel, and for the Palestinians. A prime example occurred just last week when we received with elation the news that four hostages had been rescued at the price of the death of a soldier and many civilians. 

The ongoing death and destruction in Gaza is horrific, and the escalation along the Lebanese border is worrying. During my time in Israel, I will have the opportunity to witness first-hand what is happening as a result of the ongoing hostilities and to spend time with Jews and Palestinians who are working to find a peaceful path forward that will ensure the freedom and dignity of everyone in the region.

I know this will be a challenging month. The ongoing war and other unresolved issues in Israeli society have contributed to a stridency and a level of anger in the public discourse that are at a fever pitch. I look forward to connecting with people I love and care about, hearing diverse perspectives, offering support where I can, and learning and growing together with a caring group of colleagues who are eager to help find a way out of the current crisis. I take seriously the ongoing responsibility of being part of the conversations about Israel’s future. I go on this journey with that purpose front of mind. 

I want to thank the leadership at Beth Emet for providing me with this time for learning and enrichment. Wishing a good month to all of you. While I am away, Rabbi Toby Manewith and Cantor Young will be available to support and serve the congregation. When I return from my time away, I will look forward to sharing what I have learned and experienced.


Rabbi London