The artwork on this note card was created by 5768 WRJ Art Calendar artist Césan d’Ornellas Levine.
Our religion teaches that the highest value is that of preserving human life. unequivocally, one of our most important commandments is “You shall not murder.” Nothing runs more counter to our core teachings than the three bombing attacks this month on March 13 in Ankara, on March 19 in Istanbul, and the latest on March 22 in Brussels and March 27 in Lahore, Pakistan.
My heart is heavy as I read about these tragedies. We are reminded once again about the destructive energy embodied in extremism. For many, thoughts turn toward immigrants streaming into Europe attempting to escape the radical Islamists. These immigrants are not our enemy.
This month we observe the 500th anniversary of the establishment of the first ghetto in Venice, Italy (March 29, 1516). In its heyday in the middle of the 17th century, nearly 5,000 Jews lived there. Today, there are 25,000 Jews who live in Venice (only about 50 in the old ghetto area). They are integrated as well as having their own Jewish identity. Without ghettos and with the acceptance of the citizenry, these immigrants can become part of the culture in which they live if others allow for it.
The goal of terrorism is to intimidate us from who we are and what we believe. Our response is to stand up against hate. Let this latest tragedy invigorate us to work harder to insure that those who are responsible for terror, face justice, and those who are impacted, find rachmanut, “compassion” and shalom, “peace.”
Rabbi Louchheim has served Congregation Or Chadash in Tucson, AZ since its beginning in 1995.