That was then . . .


I wrote a column for the church newsletter in October of 1993. It began like this:

There is some risk in writing about joy. It can be a fleeting thing. By the time this reaches all of you, we will have all gone back to business as usual as we are not directly affected by the historic events that took place . . .

on Sept. 13, 1993 when the Prime Minister of lsrael and the Chairman of the PLO shook hands in front of the world. It was a ceremony filled with as many emotions as words, and the words couldn't begin to describe the emotions.

Last night I went with two of my close clergy friends to the celebration at Congregation Neveh Shalom. Our friend and colleague, the cantor of the congregation stood before a crowd of Jews, Palestinians, arid Christians to sing with all her heart, words of Peace. A Palestinian woman expressed, before the crowd, her disbelief that she would ever find herself in a synagogue to celebrate the peace between people who had been enemies throughout her lifetime. The names of Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar were echoed and the names of Isaac and of Ishmael were recognized as the brothers they were and must be.

The risk about sharing such an awesome experience with you on paper is that by the time. you read this, there may well be more deaths in the occupied territories. Even the short span of two weeks can interrupt the momentum of a peace that was moving at an amazing pace in the middle of September. It would be a tragedy to look back on such a short span of days and hours to only reflect on what might have been if only the fanatics had let it be. But the greater risk is to whisper arid not shout about what an incredible moment it was. Because hope needs to be shouted about, not whispered. Joy needs to be shared, not hoarded, Hope and joy are what we need to keep the momentum going so that peace has a chance to grow from a small stream into a river that floods its banks like that of the. Mississippi. For there to be a lasting peace, there must be justice and hope to nurture it. So I take a risk by writing about
an event that was monumental and yet may not last. Yet, if enough people. put their minds, hearts, and souls into it, Peace will indeed come to the Middle East and perhaps the spark will spread to other parts of the world enveloped in the horrors of war. All is possible.

Shalom, and Salaam.

It is much harder to know what to write now. I know that I cried when Itzak Rabin was assassinated. I saw the hope and joy that I felt that Fall in 1993 buried with Mr. Rabin in that cemetary in Israel. I have not felt any hope for the region since.

When I lead a class on women in the Hebrew Bible, we spend time talking about Sarah and Hagar and the two sons that are put in the horrible position of seeking recognition and favor from their father, Abraham. The jealousy of Sarah for the much younger and more fertile Hagar, the smugness that Hagar exhibits in front of the old and withered Sarah, the issues of inheritance, all served to tell a story that laid the groundwork for tragedy. Would that had been just a tragic story, dayenou, that would have been enough. But the story is one that has lasted through the ages to divide a family, the brothers that could have been close.

It was not until the death of their father, Abraham that the two brothers came together as brothers to bury him and mourn his loss.

What will it take in this generation to bring the two brothers together? Or will it happen in our lifetime?