Since the beginning of Israel's military onslaught on Gaza, I have participated in two rallies and one prayer service. At all three events, I was treated with respect and welcomed warmly by many Palestinians. I wore my kippa and Jewish Voice for Peace T-shirt. People came up to me constantly, saying hello and asking to have their picture taken with me. People thanked me. They said they know that not all Jews are against Palestinians. They were eager to make a connection.
This is a picture (from behind, that's where the text on our T-shirts was) of me with two Palestinian protesters at a rally in downtown Chicago on Monday.
When I was growing up, we were taught to act in a way that was a Kiddush Hashem (literally: sanctifying God's name). This meant acting in public that brings non-Jews to relate positively to Jews.
I had to have a conversation with a young child today, a member of my family, who was beginning to see Jews as bad people because "they are killing people and hurting people." I told her that those doing the killing are not "the Jews". I asked her to look at all the members of her family and the congregation and see if they kill or hurt people.We went through a list of family members and other Jews. At the end, we were able to agree that Jews are good.
Amidst all the carnage and destruction in Gaza, this moment also brings a twinge to my heart. What a mirror, a young child holds up for us. In a Jewish child's eyes, Israel's war on Gaza means "Jews are bad people". Oy.
O what has become of us (Refrain of traditional lament of Tisha B'av)