90th anniversary

Good day siblings in Christ,

We know this weekend is our 90th anniversary! Bishop Paul Egensteiner is preaching and a lovely luncheon by Coles is being provided after the service. Over 50 people have signed up and it should be a joyous day.

I wanted to write the main part of this week’s letter after I had some conversation with Rabbi Jaech to see how our Jewish neighbors at Temple Israel of Northern Westchester  are feeling.

The best I can put it, so we can comprehend what happened in Israel this weekend and how it effects all Jewish people, is like this: imagine if all of a sudden Advent, Lent, Holy Week, and Christmas all came together in terms of a month and a half of holy days and congregational services. Then on the final day of the final service, you hear that Israel has been attacked in a strike 5x larger than 9-11 when scaled by population and several women, children, and elderly have been kidnapped. It was the largest day of Jewish death since the Holocaust. Members of Rabbi Jaech’s congregation have loved ones and friends in Israel and some have not been able to get in contact with them yet.

I am putting it that way because I have been reading a lot of “black and white” or “good guy vs bad guy” media coverage about the strike and the ongoing conflict in Israel and Palestine and I can tell you it is NOT a simple dichotomy. The history between the two groups has had decades of strife and unease. Hamas is not all of Palestine and are considered extremists in the country. Prime Minister Netanyahu is not all of Israel nor is the government. I am not going to “both sides” the issue, but simply write that there is a long and complex history and I am not an expert in it at all.

What I can do though is reach out to those neighbors who are hurting right now. I can pray for peace and for talks of peace. I can continue to become educated and learn more about what happened while at the same time recognizing a great tragedy that had ripples into our neighborhood has happened. It is so easy to point the finger and look for blame, but that is not what is needed. Our Jewish and Palestinian neighbors are both hurting right now because violence is happening to ordinary people who are just trying to get through their day. This violence is great and ongoing and if there is not peace, there will be more and more casualties, larger than what happened a few days ago.

I often say that I cannot change THE world, but I can change MY world. So, I spoke with Rabbi Jaech in Croton to see how I and our community might help. I told her I would be praying for her and the Temple Israel of Northern Westchester community these next few weeks. A huge crowd is expected on Friday and there is worry of violence by extremists. So, we can pray and I offered to attend on Friday. Reach out to your Jewish and Palestinian neighbors right now. There is so much hurt.

Pastor Johnson