Seeking Peace Amidst the Disagreements

Learning from the Past & Hopeful for Our Future

Rabbi’s Message – November 3, 2020

Rabbi Karen Bodney-Halasz

Twenty-five years ago I was living in Jerusalem when a hate-fueled political atmosphere became deadly.  On November 4, 1995 Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated not by one of Israel’s enemies, but by another Israeli.  Though I was young, I realized that hate from within the country would be as devastating to the Jewish people as hate from others. 

I wish I could say there has been great healing in the years that have passed, but the level of animosity between factions still runs high.  Most recently, concerns over the Coronavirus pandemic have led to especially inflammatory arguments. 

I caught a glimpse of hope a few weeks ago, however, when Israeli MKs agreed that the atmosphere was not in keeping with the Jewish value of respectful dialogue.  They brought forward a “Mutual Respect Charter” and signed this pact hoping that Israeli elected officials could begin to disagree from a position of mutual respect.  The Charter will encourage them to find ways to work together despite significant differences of opinion.  

I am cautiously optimistic that peaceful discourse may be possible.  Not just in Israel, but here at home where we see unbelievable levels of political aggression.  Normally the end of a challenging election brings relief and hope for our country to reunite. But we are so  fractured that it feels “agreeing to disagree” is a thing of the past.    There is real fear that election day will divide us even more.  In the days to come, I hope that our elected officials recognize, as they did in Israel, that it will be most important to find mutual respect.   We will be looking to them to ensure a peaceful transition of power.  And when political rivals lead the way, it inspires us to show respect for everyone, even those with whom we disagree.

On this election night and eve of the 25th anniversary of Rabin’s assassination, I pray that we will renew our commitment to seek peace in our communities, our country, and our world.