by Rabbah Gila Caine
(AJNews) – Ever since Hamas’s terror attack on Oct. 7, many conversations I’ve had with people here in Edmonton, but also in other spaces in the Jewish world, have circled around a strange silence. It’s no secret I’m situated on the political left (some would say centre-left) and most of the people and organizations I work with, my frame of reference if you’d like, span the spaces left of centre. And most Jews in those spaces heard a strange silence starting that Shabbat morning. A hesitance by some people to call or write and ask how we are doing. A reluctance to call out Hamas’s atrocity for what it was, in clear words. On the progressive Left we saw many “social justice” activists cheering on acts of rape, abduction and murder, all in the name of “liberation.”
Are these champions of humanity actually blaming the victims? You can read about this in numerous articles from around the Jewish English speaking world, so I won’t reiterate.
I think that for many of us this tore apart hard earned layers of trust, and revived ghosts from previous generations. I think many of us felt betrayed. Many of us felt very alone.
True, this is only one part of the story. Like many of my friends, I was also deeply touched by the kind words and emotional support I received from non-Jewish friends, clergy, and random people in shops. Each hand reaching out was like a bit of thread mending that tear I felt, and I am extremely grateful. I know we are not alone, and I know there are many good people who are partners in the work of healing our world.
But, this is also a time of chesbon nefesh, an accounting of our soul, as we ask ourselves: Who are our friends? How do we continue working towards a more just and peaceful world, while making sure we are not being lured into antisemitic spaces and self hate.
It is probably time to go back to reviving a Jewish Left, one that drinks more clearly from Jewish worldviews and ethical practices.
In preparation for that I wrote a kavanah, an intention to help us focus our mind and spirit as we navigate this difficult time (the kavanah was written in Heb. but I’m sharing the Eng. translation).
May Hashem give our leaders the right thoughts and words and return the captives back home, may we find healing and friendship and know peace in our days.
Kavanah for working towards a new Jewish Left (Eng. translation)
Blessed are You Adonai our God and God of our ancestors, You separate light from darkness and open the eye of the blind to see light from light, light before light, white fire in black fire illuminating our world with shadows.
Adonai Tzeva’ot, El Shaddai, blessed are you for raising my soul from deep mists and opening my spirit-eyes to observe and divide: between lover and foe, between those who work for peace and those using our pain for their own needs.
I accept and agree to remove myself from the company of bad friends and shallow answers, and to hold fast to those who recognize the image of God/dess concealed in each person.
I thank you Eternal one, for seeds of compassion you have planted in us, and for Truth springing up from the Earth.
Blessed are you Adonai, Creator of Lights.