Letter to the editor
To my Jewish sisters and brothers,
I learnt of what was going on at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas, USA late on Saturday night 15 January, from a Facebook post made by one of the Rabbis at Temple Israel Cape Town, of which I am a member. What became clear as the nightmare played itself out over the hours — for us through the night, for some in real time, for others, after Shabbat ended and they became aware of what was going on — is that the people Israel, the global Jewish community, were with Rabbi Cytron-Walker and his three congregants as their captivity wore on. Jews of every denomination felt this in their gut. They shared each other’s posts of prayer and then release. This is who we are. This is Am Yisrael!
Let us remember this as we move onward. Let us remember as we collectively pray for the healing of the four people who endured the horror as hostages many kilometers away (in our case and that of others outside the US), or not so far away — that we are all bonded as a people. That our differences of prayer style and interpretation did not matter over the hours of their captivity. It didn’t matter if we called ourselves Reform, Conservative, Orthodox, Reconstructionist, Renewal or secular — terrorism and anti-semitism know no boundary and do not differentiate. What mattered is that our people were once again victimised at the hands of a madman. We are better together than divided and we must learn from this. We cannot help the world to heal in our quest for Tikkun Olam (repairing the world) if we don’t repair these rifts within.
We cannot afford to come together over victimisation only. We must come together over the love of each other, and respect each other. All who call themselves Jews felt the anguish experienced by Congregation Beth Israel. No one checked pedigree.
Congregation Beth Israel literally means the house of the people Israel — and that is what we are — Am Yisrael — the Jewish people. It is also how we must act.
Nancy Krisch, Wynberg (16 January 2022)
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