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Letter to the Community

10/24/2023 04:24:21 PM


CBI Leadership

Dear CBI Community,

It has been a deeply painful couple of weeks since the Hamas attacks on Israel on the morning of Shemini Atzeret/Simchat Torah (October 7), and the ensuing war in Gaza. We have cried, prayed, and sat with many of you in our collective grief, fear, and pain. We have hosted multiple gathering spaces to support one another with our immensity of feelings. That will all continue, for as long as needed.  We are here for you.

We are grateful to the countless individuals who have stepped forward to volunteer their support over these past weeks: providing meals, mental health support, leading services and listening sessions, or simply asking “how can I help?” We are especially grateful to those who offered to be on-call and enabled CBI senior leadership to take much-needed time off last week, as we had only just concluded the High Holy Day season. We have also been moved by the gestures of support we have received from local leaders and others outside the Jewish community.

It is especially remarkable to note that this outpouring of support and desire for connection has transcended political perspectives on Israel and Palestine. Our CBI community, including the CBI leadership and staff, embody a wide range of opinions on the current crisis. There are few other Jewish communities that strive to maintain a tent wide enough to contain the diversity that we hold so dear. Some community members are donating funds to Israeli organizations working on the ground to support those most harmed, others are advocating for the safe release of hostages, some are demanding an immediate ceasefire, and others are showing care in a multitude of different ways. However you are choosing to respond to this current moment, we want and need all of you here. 

Numerous members of our community have stepped forward to make their voices heard, at times in ways that seem to conflict. Building trusting relationships with each other, even and especially through difference, can only help us to be a more resilient community. In this most challenging time we commit to doing what we can to help us turn toward one another rather than away. Building true community takes work, and we are committed to doing that work together with you.

There is diversity among the five of us on our range of feelings at this moment and our broader analysis of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We are, however, of a shared mind and heart around the following sentiments. We offer you these thoughts in the spirit of opening a dialogue, not closing one.

  1. We remain horrified by the unspeakably violent attacks in Israel on Simchat Torah. There is no justification for the acts of terrorism that have resulted in the death, torture and kidnapping of innocent people, including babies and the elderly.
  2. Our own community here at CBI includes many people whose family and friends in Israel have been directly impacted by these attacks—including loved ones who have been murdered, injured and kidnapped, those who have been called up as reserves and whose safety is now at risk, or who live in range of ongoing rocket attacks. We grieve and worry with them. For many of us, these attacks stir up a familiar fear for Jewish safety.
  3. We ache and fear for the safety of the Israeli hostages and add our voices to the demands that they be released swiftly and without harm.
  4. We are heartbroken by the rising number of Palestinian civilians killed and injured in the retaliatory strikes by Israel, as well as the deepening humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Members of our community are terrified for the safety of their friends and loved ones in Gaza and the West Bank. We grieve and worry with them too, and join with all who pray and call for a resolution that prioritizes the sanctity of all human life.
  5. Our tradition is clear in asserting that all people are born in the image of the Divine and that the sanctity of all life is equal. Empathy is not a binary experience and must extend to all who suffer, Israelis and Palestinians alike.
  6. In addition to all the physical injury, we worry about the inevitable psychological and physiological trauma that this violence causes for both the Israeli and Palestinian peoples, and the long-term consequences of this ongoing conflict for both peoples.

We are committed to civil discourse and to maintaining a community that respectfully and lovingly creates space for a wide diversity of views. We are dedicated to offering specific ways in the near future to help us come together, and collectively strengthen our capacity to have difficult conversations and learn from one another. In doing so, we hope that our community can grow even stronger and offer a model for other Jewish communities engaged in this difficult, but important, work.

We are grateful to be in community with you.

May the One Who makes peace in the heavens help us make peace here on earth.


Rabbi Jacob Fine
Rabbi Ariella Rosen
Emily Kieval, Executive Director

Stan Schapiro, CBI Co-President
Barbara Black, CBI Co-President

Sun, April 14 2024 6 Nisan 5784