Dear Or Shalom Community, 

Three months. Three months of violence. Of a mounting death toll. Of humanitarian crisis. Of communal rupture. Three months, with no end in sight. My heart breaks to contemplate the slightest fraction of it.

I know many of us are tired and hurting and pleading for a peaceful resolution. A just resolution. I know many of us feel helpless and hopeless, after months of vigils and rallies and actions we have taken to effect change–and still no change. I know many of us are just praying for it all to stop.

I wrote to you all two months back with the promise of a more intentional process of values discernment when it comes to Or Shalom’s approach to the both acute and chronic issues in Israel and Palestine. I think one thing that has been revealed over the last three months is there is no such thing as neutrality; that everything we say or do not say—do or do not do—as individuals and as a community has political undertones. Has impact.

What I have also learned from many of you during this time is Or Shalom’s origin story. That this community was founded 32 years ago as a safe space for people who hold varying views on Israel–including criticism—to exist and build liberatory Jewish community in diaspora. I have also learned that Or Shalom and Or Shalomers have, historically and contemporarily, led with prophetic voice when it comes to injustice in that region, and that we are being called upon to use that prophetic voice right now.

I do not feign to believe that we all agree on solutions. But I do have deep faith that our values are shared, and I believe that rooting in those values is crucial in this moment. To bring us together as a community. And to allow this community to be multivocal while having a shared root out of which we are blossoming. I believe we are strong enough to hold us all.

Therefore, beginning in February, I am going to guide us through a 3-part series to support us as a community in clarifying and distilling our values. The proposed outcomes for this process are:

  1. A values statement that can be posted on our website and serve as guidance to the Board of Directors as they navigate challenging decisions in this time.
  2. Proposed next steps and action items to enact as a community, which could include but is not limited to educational programming, cultural programming, or organizing opportunities.

We really want as much community input as possible into this process. So please mark your calendars for:

  • Sunday, February 4, 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
  • Sunday February 18, 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
  • Sunday, March 3, 10:00 am – 12:00 pm

The location of these sessions are to be determined. Please stay tuned.

With prayers for a world to come, filled with justice and peace,

R’ Faryn