May/June 2022


As of this writing, we continue daily witnessing the carnage of war on our television (Myanmar, Yemen, Ethiopia, Ukraine etc...). No sentient human being can help but be appalled by the atrocities. Ukraine impacts many of us most personally because we know that Kiev and Odessa were both cradles of so much of 19th and 20th Century Jewish creativity, life and thought. Zionist ideology, Hebrew language and literature, Jewish political thought, Yiddish lexicography, Jewish theatre and performing arts, Synagogue music, Cantorial arts, etc. all flourished like never before in the Ukraine, which is also sadly, the location of many Nazi era mass Jewish graves. 


We continue clinging to and reciting the prayer "Osseh Shalom". Our sages who produced the Hebrew prayer book were also architects of our calendar. As students of Babylonian astronomy (see The Exact Sciences in Antiquity by O. Neugebauer) they calculated and charted the cycles of astral and planetary movements. While gazing at the heavens, one anonymous teacher of Midrash noted the prevalence of the elements of fire (meteors, comets, and blazing luminaries, etc.) and also water (hail, rain and snow). How can these different elements coexist? One would expect that either the fire will prevail, consuming and evaporating all the water, leaving humanity to perish in drought. Alternatively, the water prevails, extinguishing the fire, consigning us to perpetual darkness. If either side wins, we all lose!  


"Osseh Shalom Bimromav"! We are all so very different: Women and Men, Reform and Orthodox, Black, and White, Democrat and Republican, Jew and Arab, Protestant and Catholic, Muslim, and Christian, etc. How are we to survive the seething hatreds? The only solution seems to be:  "Hu ya'aseh shalom Alaynu..." 


Master of the universe! As you have made peace in the heavens, causing both the fire and the water to coexist thus enabling us to live, "Hu ya aseh shalom alaynu"…we pray that the Lord will perform a similar miracle for us. For those who dream of destroying their enemy, Oh Lord, grant them better dreams! May we come to recognize the divinity of the other, each created in God's image and treat all Your children with dignity and respect, making a place for each and for all! AMEN