Toward Shabbat solidarity with Gaza

Tzedakah saves from death. (Proverbs 10:2)
Let’s make justice for Gaza part of our weekly regimen as we prepare for Shabbat.

By Rabbi Brant Rosen | Shalom Rav | Feb 19, 2019

For its part, the Jewish communal establishment greets these crimes with silence at best and justification at worst — as if it is perfectly justifiable to regularly shoot down unarmed protesters with live gunfire.

For religious Jews, Friday is typically devoted to spiritual and practical preparation for the Sabbath. Those who are traditionally observant will spend the morning and afternoon doing their shopping, housecleaning and cooking for Shabbat before sundown. Before Shabbat worship, there is a preliminary service known as Kabbalat Shabbat: a series of Psalms and prayers of welcome that serve as a spiritual precursor to the onset of the Jewish Sabbath. As any Shabbat observant Jew will attest, the sense of spiritual preparation and anticipation that takes place on Friday is deeply imbedded in the sacred rhythm of the Jewish week.

Speaking personally, this sacred rhythm has been disrupted — perhaps even profaned — for me for almost a year now. That is because every Friday afternoon, my news feed is regularly filled with reports of Palestinian civilians killed and maimed by the Israeli military during the protests taking place during the Great March of Return.

Every Erev Shabbat, as I prepare for the most sacred day of the week, I invariably learn that Gazans — including young adults and children — have been shot down by Israeli bullets as they protest hundreds of meters from the Gaza border fences. As of January 2019, Israeli soldiers have killed over 250 people and injured 23,000. Among the injured, many are grievously wounded; the Washington Post recently reported that doctors in Gaza are often unable to deal with such traumatic injuries because Israel’s crushing blockade has left hospitals “overwhelmed and understaffed.”

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