Advancing the Vision of a Terror-Free Middle East
The following message to the Maimonides School faculty, as it returned from Midwinter Recess, was written by Rabbi David Shapiro, Rosh Yeshiva; Rabbi Yair Altshuler, Principal, Middle and Upper School; and Rabbi David Saltzman, Principal, Elementary School:
We welcome each other and our students back to routine school days in a week when no Jew -- indeed, no human being -- should adhere to routine. Empathy for the suffering of innocent people -- Jew and non-Jew -- should jar us from ‘business as usual.”
Tragically, years of gratuitous shelling into Israeli cities -- with the attendant maiming and killing of many innocent civilians while the world stood by without protest -- has now forced Israel to free itself unilaterally of this relentless threat to its civilian population.
President Bush and Secretary of State Rice have repeatedly asserted that “Israel had no choice but to do what it is now doing” and “Hamas must stop shelling Israeli civilian settlements before Israel can stop its current defensive assault.”
As members of a faith community that teaches the sanctity of all human life, we pray that God will grant a speedy victory to the IDF, so that hundreds of thousands of Israelis can again live their life without worrying about missiles intended to take their lives, and so that Palestinians and Israelis can begin to build a life side-by-side in harmony and cooperation.
In our school’s mission statement we declare that one of our goals is “to forge in our students a spiritual bond and sense of identification with the State of Israel.” Now more than ever we need to focus on that goal.
Unfortunately our ability to help is limited, but we must try to sustain our students’ focus on the war and to update them regularly as much as we can. We must encourage our students to keep the welfare of our Jewish soldiers, who have now been forced “into harm’s way” by the apathy (and, truth to tell, enmity) of most of the world’s leaders, uppermost in their thoughts and prayers.
We should remember that among the Israeli soldiers there are alumni, and relatives of current students, and we pray for them particularly within our prayers for the welfare of all soldiers.
Our vision of a Hamas-free and Hezbollah-free Middle East in which Jews and Arabs cooperate to extend and enhance life-on-this-earth is part of the religious worldview of our school, and we -- as a faculty -- should utilize the current unfortunate situation as a “teaching moment” to advance this vision.