Responding to this moment by Rabbis Charley Baginsky and Josh Levy

19 October 2023 – 4 Heshvan 5784

Charley at Israel rally

Written by Rabbis Charley Baginsky and Josh Levy, CEOS of Progressive Judaism

As we met with the most senior leadership in the Jewish world earlier this week, looking around the room there was one only one way to describe everyone, us included… exhausted.

We are all feeling a level of responsibility for our communities and our constituents, in a way no one could have imagined or even really prepared for. At the same time, as we all well know, from whatever place we are coming from this also feels deeply deeply personal. Were we not supporting thousands of members, we would still not be sleeping.

Our phones and inboxes are full of requests for statements from communities, individuals and the press. But there are times for statements, clear, unequivocal words and there are times for using your words gently, in ways that allow the silences between the words to be heard.

Progressive Jewish Leadership is being in the midst of the particular and the universal in the same moment.

It is about being able to hold the suffering and fear of those who look to you. It means recognising we are Zionists; who are committed to Israel and the values in which she was founded and wanting her to be true to those. It means that we are committed to continuing to live meaningful Jewish lives in the country we call home. Alongside this, it is also about seeing, naming and highlighting the suffering and tragedy of others, or to paraphrase Elie Wiesel, to hear the call of Judaism as being committed not to making the world more Jewish but more human.

It may be that this is not yet the moment for dialogue, that it’s too painful to contemplate, but we can acknowledge pain without trying to compare and proportion indiscriminate blame. We can be the voices of nuance and complexity of truths.

We can connect and grieve and commit again to live and love and build community.

Picture: Rabbi Charley Baginsky recites a prayer at the London rally in support of the Israeli hostages

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