Jerusalem: Violence in the city of Compassion — Statement from Rabbi Susan Goldberg

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Dear Community,

Each morning in our morning prayers we pray for God’s Compassion, Rachamim, to be restored in Jerusalem. This morning these prayers are poignant and painful as violence and pain rip through the holy city. Over the past couple of days multiple factors have come together at once into an awful situation.

A few years ago when I was in Jerusalem I went to the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah and learned about what was happening there. The many year process of unjust evictions of Palestinians in Sheikh Jarrah is one of the flash points that began this violence in these past days. It was also Jerusalem Day and a planned march by an extremist youth group that targets Palestinians contributed more fuel. And now Hamas and other terrorist organizations are targeting Israeli civilians, firing rockets toward communities in the south and near Jerusalem. These attacks are being met by retaliatory violence in Gaza. It is a terrifying and tragic situation.

There are many more factors than I have shared here and new developments all the time.I invite you to join me in learning more tomorrow, Wednesday May 12 at 11am PT (2pm ET) for a conversation about this volatile and highly dynamic situation, with leading Palestinian and Israeli experts from Jerusalem to update us about what is happening on the ground, what Israelis and Palestinians are doing, and what we can do from afar.

Rabbi Jill Jacobs, executive director of T’ruah, shared this teaching about Jerusalem and Compassion:

“The ancient rabbis, ruminating on the decision to locate Jerusalem in the territory of the tribe of Benjamin, offer this comment:

Why did Benjamin merit having the Divine Presence dwell in his territory? Because nearly all of the tribes were complicit in the sale of Joseph, while Benjamin had nothing to do with it. So the Holy One said: Am I to tell these to build the house I choose to dwell in, so that they may pray to Me in it and I may be filled with compassion for them? No. They were not compassionate to their brother, so I shall not have My compassionate Presence dwell in their territory. (Yalkut Shimoni, VeZot HaBracha 949)

Benjamin, the youngest son of Jacob and the only brother not involved in selling Joseph into slavery in Egypt, is the only one who merits the Divine presence dwelling in his realm. Jerusalem is more than a physical city — it is a place meant to manifest God’s compassion, and therefore must not be the site of violence or the expulsion of families.”

– Rabbi Jill Jacobs

Let us continue to pray for the safety and security of everyone living in Jerusalem. And let us support efforts to restore Rachamim to Jerusalem.

-Rabbi Susan Goldberg
Founder of Nefesh