Rabbi Miriam's Blog
I got a strange phone call from a dear friend in Israel yesterday morning. She asked me, "What do you hear in your American media? When are they going to bomb?" It took me a split second to understand that the topic she was asking about was the civil war in Syria and the chemical bombing of their citizens. I informed her that by this point the media talks about when, not if, the Allies bombing is going to take place.
I placed the phone down, and my emotional being went into "high alert" to the happening in Israel. Late last night when I was finally able to watch my Israeli satellite TV, to my horror, I saw a large gathering of fearful people waiting to get their gas masks. Israel's civil defense unit had created centers for gas mask distribution in post offices and special centers throughout Israel. WHAT??? AGAIN???
Thoughts where running in my head, oh, my God, we just celebrated a family wedding, many of my family members are still here is L.A. All of them had tickets to go back to Israel today or tomorrow. I called them and asked them to delay their return just for one week... they were laughing. "What are you worried about?" they asked me. "We are not worried. Remember the Yom-Kippur War? It has happened before that they wanted to kill us. God is on our side, don't worry." Wow, this is a lesson in life, I thought. This is what we need in a relationship, complete trust. This is a relationship of conviction. This is the faith one needs to have in a covenantal relationship between God and His people.
Yet, my heart, and my emotional alert system called me to watch my Israeli satellite TV this morning. The focus of the Israeli media this time was on the Patriot anti-missile rockets the army already placed all over Israel; the frightening fact that there are only enough gas masks for six out of ten Israelis; and the growing crowds in the gas mask distribution centers. Suddenly, while being in one of these mask centers, almost by accident, the camera scanned the growing crowd and scanned the back of a worker's T-Shirt, it read, "Gas Mask Center. Choose Life!"
Shivers went up my spine. This line is in our Torah portion this week!!! "I have put before you life and death, blessing and curse. Choose life!" Deut. 30:19. At this point, tears were running down my face. Later, trying to console myself, I took a deep breath and thought about the pleading words of the Avinu Malkenu prayer, when we are beseeching God,
"Avinu Malkenu let the gates of heaven be open to our plea...
do not turn us away empty handed from Your presence...
have compassion on us and on our children...
give strength to Your people of Israel...
make an end to all oppression...
treat us generously and with kindness, and be our help."
As we gather this coming Saturday for early learning (see separate flier), Shabbat service, evening Slihot-Healing service (see separate flier), and Wednesday evening and Thursday morning in honor of Rosh HaShanah, we, your loving Rabbi, Gary, Kimberly and other holiday guests wish you a Shanah Tovah. May God bless you with a good year, a year of good health and peace. Amen.
Ahavat Torah of West Los Angeles
About Rabbi Miriam
Rabbi Miriam E. Hamrell MHL, M.Ed., has served as our religious and spiritual leader at Ahavat Torah Congregation and helped it grow since it was founded in 2003.