A very brief note this morning as I prepare for a few very full days. The Yom ha Shoah commemorations on Sunday and Monday mornings and the Rally for Israel Sunday afternoon, offer us all serious opportunities to reflect on our place as Jews in Victoria and throughout the world historically and in these present days.

I recently watched a video of a Reform Rabbi speaking about how too many of our people have become so enamoured of tikkun olam they have forgotten about Ahavat Yisroel – love of Israel, of who we are as Jews. Yet, as Jews we are tied irrevocably to the existence of the land and people Israel.

One of the points of my talk on Sunday at the rally was Bring Them Home – all the hostages trapped in Gaza, but also those Jews who have become hostage to relentless hatred of who we are. Many universities speak about academic freedom, and free expression of opinion. But at the same time, they have been pressured relentlessly for well over a decade to cut ties with Israel universities and increasingly, Israeli citizens and fellow academics. Be they professors or students the presence of Israeli and Jewish students on campuses is being increasingly threatened. These threats are the antithesis of much touted academic freedom, and pursuit of knowledge.

Statement from faculty members (some) at UVic: “Universities and colleges serve the common good of society through searching for and disseminating knowledge and fostering independent thinking and expression in academic staff and students. Robust democracies require no less. These ends cannot be achieved in an environment where free expression and academic freedom are curtailed.” I agree. If these faculty members (in support of these encampments believe these words, then they would not be supporting or advocating for divestment from formal relationships with Israeli academies.

Kedoshim, our Torah reading this week, warns us again to not worship false idols. Today as we watch increasing violence and violent language about Israel, we must be cautious against all false idols; of standing up for others but not for our own, of making false accusations and bigoted demands.

Yom HaShoah reminds us every year how quickly doors can close to Jews. Yom HaShoah also reminds us of the absolute necessity of the existence of the nation of Israel. Imagine, as we all have, if the nation of Israel had existed in the 1930’s. Our history would be very different if Jews had a country then that welcomed us freely as Jews attempted to flee from the Nazi idols of the day. We are k’lal Yisroel.

With love,
Rabbi Lynn