Get unlimited digital access to baltimoresun.com. $0.99 for 4 weeks.
News Opinion Readers Respond

In Gaza, songs of anguish

I am a singer and a rabbi, and I would rather sing to you right now, because you have probably read too many words, heard too much raw speech, about Israel and Gaza. It would be better to soothe and distract. But I feel compelled to find words. Just words.

Biblical verses and fragments of songs jostle for recognition and repetition, but I can’t hear then clearly enough. Instead, I’m trapped in the compulsion to read every report, go to every website.

It feels disrespectful to say that I feel inundated or bombarded by all the words, when there are too many who are actually being bombarded.

To recite a litany of some things on this “side” and some things on that “side” feels like a desecration, a less-than-holy thing to write. I’m a rabbi; I have comforted at hospital beds, in houses of mourning; celebrated in times of joys, worshipped on the holy days, learned and taught with children and the young at heart, and know that trauma is trauma. No proportionality need qualify the permanence, and the destructiveness, of its impact.

My heart is heavy now, listening and reading way too much, way too many words, pulling me back to the days of Operation Cast Lead. A friend wondered, then, why I was so absorbed, so anguished, from so far away. How can I explain now, to anyone -- to family, to clergy colleagues, to friends -- how profoundly I want to find a way to wail the song: no more bombing in my name.

The diploma on the wall speaks: You! Find words, analyze, contextualize. I reply, resisting: I don’t have to come up with political solutions.  Let me just sing.

But I’m pulled to this keyboard, not to the other one, tapping at the letters to drown out the songs of anguish. Maybe, soon, a new melody in the key of tselem elohim [Genesis 1:27] -- all humans created in the image of the Divine -- will come to me.

I’ll keep listening for it.

Elizabeth Bolton, Baltimore

The writer is the Rabbi Emerita of Reconstructionist Congregation Beit Tikvah in Baltimore and a member of the Jewish Voice for Peace Rabbinical Cabinet.

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
Related Content
  • Palestinians have more to answer for at the ICC than Israel
    Palestinians have more to answer for at the ICC than Israel

    I must respond to your recent report that the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court has launched a preliminary probe into alleged Israeli war crimes in the Palestinian territories ("International Criminal Court opens probe into possible war crimes in Palestinian territories," Jan. 17).

  • Anti-Semitism on the rise in Europe
    Anti-Semitism on the rise in Europe

    The European Union just recently declared that Hamas is no longer going to be listed as a terrorist state? The majority of the United Nations member nations now also want Israel to be investigated for Geneva Code violations? What is going on, and has the European Union now gone out of their...

  • Israel's actions in Gaza were self-defense
    Israel's actions in Gaza were self-defense

    In condemning Israel for finally taking action to counter terrorist and rocket attacks, Ray Gordon ignores the history of the last nine years of the conflict between Hamas and Israel ("Hold Israel accountable for war crimes," Dec. 23). After Israel voluntarily withdrew from Gaza without any...

  • Hold Israel accountable for war crimes
    Hold Israel accountable for war crimes

    The Sun editorial, "Horror in Peshawar" (Dec.16), describes the Taliban attack in Pakistan that left 140 children dead and states, "What happened there can only be described as an atrocity committed by murderous criminals." Why didn't The Sun equally condemn the actions of Israel, which...

  • Jewish homeland bill would erode Israeli democracy
    Jewish homeland bill would erode Israeli democracy

    I was stunned to read that Israeli lawmakers had approved a Jewish "homeland" bill ("Israel's Jewish homeland proposal could further heighten tension," Nov. 23).

  • Israel's reaction to Jerusalem killings is measured, Palestinians' is disgraceful
    Israel's reaction to Jerusalem killings is measured, Palestinians' is disgraceful

    The Sun's editorial, "Tragedy in Jerusalem" (Nov. 20) about the murders of four rabbis and a policeman by Palestinian terrorists starts well: "This was an act of pure nihilism and murderous hatred that deserves the world's unequivocal condemnation and scorn..." But then comes "that said," and...

  • Sun hits a moral low in editorial on Jerusalem attack
    Sun hits a moral low in editorial on Jerusalem attack

    The recent editorial in The Sun regarding the attack in Jerusalem set a new low in moral equivalency ("Tragedy in Jerusalem," Nov. 20). The editorial board spent all of two sentences stating that there is no justification for such an attack and then went on to explain how both sides have been...

  • No statehood for murderers
    No statehood for murderers

    The cold-blooded and planned murder of four rabbis, three American and one British, in West Jerusalem by Palestinian Arabs was celebrated both in Gaza and the West Bank ("Tragedy in Jerusalem," Nov. 19). This demonstrates that there can be no permanent nor true peace between Israelis and...

Comments
Loading