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Thanksgiving Message

Dear PSJC Community,

Upon touching down in the US following a powerful week exploring Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Dubai (in each place trying to better understand the relationships between Jews, Israel and Arabs), I popped open my phone and to my shock and tremendous sadness, learned of the twin terror attacks at Jerusalem bus stations (killing one and injuring at least 18). Our hearts break for the family of the Canadian-Israeli teen who died in the attack, and we join with leaders around the world in praying for healing for those who were injured.

Sadly, I did not even get off the plane before learning of another horrifying event that occurred while I was flying back to the States. An 18-year-old Israeli citizen from a Druze village near Haifa was in a bad car accident in Jenin on Tuesday, and overnight, local gunmen kidnapped him from his hospital bed in Jenin where he was on life support.

While waiting in the airport for my next flight (to visit my parents for Thanksgiving), I saw the US news with its horrific headlines of yet another mass shooting in America—this one at a Walmart in VA, killing 6 and wounding at least 4.

It is an understatement to say that this has been a difficult and disturbing day — particularly as it is the day leading to Thanksgiving. Clearly, we enter into this holiday weekend with a heavy heart, so much pain inflicted on so many in such a short time. I hope that we can each take a moment at our Thanksgiving tables tomorrow, to hold those who have been harmed in our hearts and to consider what we might do to help address this pain.

I want to close by sharing with you what impressed me the most on this trip. Without a doubt, it was the people we met who had every reason to hate and yet simply would not give in to that hate, nor resort to violence. Repeatedly, I found myself deeply moved by those (Jews and Arabs alike, in Israel, in Ramallah and East Jerusalem, and in Dubai) who were struggling to create a different narrative for themselves and for their communities — one guided by something other than hate — one that involved (as we were taught in last week’s Parasha Vayisa) et einav, vayaar — to lift up one’s eyes and to see — to see the person standing alongside us, the one who has been invisible to us, the one we may have harmed, the one we may have been taught to hate — to see that person as a human being…and thereby to be incapable of acting against them with violence.

My prayer for us all as we celebrate Thanksgiving tomorrow is that we pause to lift up our eyes — to see the realities of our world (for no change can come if we don’t open our eyes to all that exists — the good and the bad) AND to sit with gratitude and to really see the many gifts that are ours — especially those we tend to ignore or take for granted.

I look forward to sharing more about this past week of our “Abraham’s Tent” journey with you very soon, but for now, I simply want to leave you with a prayer that this Thanksgiving (this day of gratitude and appreciation) be filled with health and peace for us all — here and across the globe.

Rabbi Carie Carter

Park Slope Jewish Center

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