Statement on the horrific synagogue massacre terrorist attack in Israel – November 18 2014

I felt shaken the entire day yesterday by the devastating news out of Israel.

We turn to houses of prayer to feel a sense of safety, community and connection. It is a place where we open up to G-d, make ourselves vulnerable and pray for health, sustenance and peace. The haunting images of worshippers wrapped in their talis and sprawled on the floor in pools of blood echoes images not seen since the Holocaust.

As we have come together this year to make our own place to pray and congregate, yesterday’s attack on a synagogue felt so violating. Arab terrorists killed five morning worshippers at Kehilat Bnei Torah Synagogue in Har Nof, Jerusalem and left another six people critically injured.

It is horrifying that these victims were attacked just as they finished the last blessing of the Amidah, the prayer for peace:  Sim Shalom Tova U’vracha.  שִׂים שָׁלוֹם טוֹבָה וּבְרָכָה     Grant peace, everywhere, Goodness and blessing.

We express our deepest sympathies and condolences to the families of these 5 murdered innocents.

Rabbi Moshe Twersky.

Rabbi Kalman Levine

Rabbi Aryeh Kupinsky

Rabbi Abraham Goldberg

and Zidan Sayif (the heroic Druze policeman who was the first on the scene and shot the terrorists).

We say as is customary, Baruch Dayan Emet. Blessed is the True Judge. For only he understands.

Additionally, we must pray for the injured victims who remain in critical condition at this time: Here are their Hebrew names:

Shmuel Yerucham ben Baila

Chaim Yechiel Ben Malka

Avraham Shmuel Ben Shaina

Eitan ben Sarah

Aryeh ben Bracha

We must remain optimistic and dream for peace and imagine a future someday where Jews and Arabs can live side by side peacefully.

The coming months, however, will be challenging as Israel faces an evil radical terrorist onslaught. “The murder of non-Zionist Torah scholars is an attack on Jews more than Israel, and explaining it requires an understanding of hatred, not of politics,” as the New Republic wrote last night in Politics can’t explain the Israeli synagogue attack. Only hatred can.

As LGBT Jews, Or Chayim expresses its unconditional and unwavering support for Israel. We have an obligation to stand with and support Israel both on the days when the world weeps with us and on the days when it is deafeningly silent or critical.

One can not answer for the numerous CNN headline gaffes yesterday. Nor can one answer why the White House sat quietly all Summer before finally acknowledging this week that Europe’s anti-Zionism is increasingly anti-Semitism.  Nor can one answer, why the White House decided in October to suspend its standards against civilian casualties in its new war in Syria and Iraq after criticizing Israel for civilian casualties all summer. There is hypocrisy in this world. And Israel like every Western democracy has an obligation to protect the hard-fought rights, liberties and freedoms of its citizenry.
We know that Israel is just and moral and that the majority of its citizens crave peace. And as Prime Minister Netanyahu says, if the Arabs dropped their weapons tomorrow there would be peace, but if Israel dropped its weapons tomorrow, there would be no more Israel.

Let us be proud that Israel only uses force when it is utmost necessary. Even then, as in this summer’s war with Gaza, Israel provided two advance warnings to each of its targets ahead of time. A tactic that was unprecedented in war. A tactic that limited civilian casualties. And a tactic that is a model for other nations to someday follow.

We must stand with Israel when it uses force to protect itself and/or root out terrorism.


In this week’s torah portion, Parshat Toldot, our forefather Jacob (also known as Israel) creates a lentil stew for the mourning of his grandfather Abraham (Genesis 25:29-30). The great medieval biblical scholar Rashi asks, “why serve lentils in mourning?” He answers that “lentils have no mouth, no openings. So too the mourner has no mouth. They can’t speak.” Mourners have no answers, they have no words to say. I feel the same way right now. We have no words to say for yesterday’s awful tragedy.

Yet Rashi cites an additional reason. “Lentils resemble a wheel, for mourning is a turning wheel in the world.” As the Talmud, in Bava Basra 16b, says “just as the wheel turns, so too, mourning goes around in an inescapable cycle, befalling the inhabitants of the world.” The Talmud continues that lentils are a consolation and reminder that mourning is not a constant.

The people of Israel are not known for carrying grudges. After all, mourning is not a constant. We move on.

Today the Kehilat Bnei Torah Synagogue in Har Nof, Jerusalem was open for services again.

And once again they are saying the blessing of Sim Shalom this morning. God bless our sacred liturgy that for generation after generation keeps its people optimistic and sustains us with the resiliency to pray for peace on the day after the most harrowing of horrors.

Let us keep that in mind and let us keep the names of those that are critically injured in mind as we pray with the entire nation of Israel for peace.

Oliver Rosenberg
President & Founder
Or Chayim

שִׂים שָׁלוֹם טוֹבָה וּבְרָכָה

חֵן וָחֶֽסֶד וְרַחֲמִים עָלֵֽינוּ וְעַל כָּל יִשְׂרָאֵל עַמֶּֽךָ

בָּרְכֵֽנוּ, אָבִֽינוּ, כֻּלָּֽנוּ כְּאֶחָד בְּאוֹר פָּנֶֽיךָ

כִּי בְאוֹר פָּנֶֽיךָ נָתַֽתָּ לָּֽנוּ ה’ אֱלֹקינוּ

תּוֹרַת חַיִּים וְאַֽהֲבַת חֶֽסֶד וּצְדָקָה וּבְרָכָה וְרַחֲמִים וְחַיִּים וְשָׁלוֹם

וְטוֹב בְּעֵינֶֽיךָ לְבָרֵךְ אֶת עַמְּךָ יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּכָל עֵת וּבְכָל שָׁעָה בִּשְׁלוֹמֶֽךָ

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה’ הַמְבָרֵךְ אֶת עַמּוֹ יִשְׂרָאֵל בַּשָּׁלוֹם

Sim shalom tovah u-ve-raħa

Ḥen vacħesed ve-raħamim aleinu ve-al kol Yisrael amekha

Barkheinu Avinu kulanu ke-eħad be-or panekha

Ki ve-or panekha natata lanu, Adonai Eloheinu

Torat ħayim ve-ahavat ħesed, u-tzedaka u-ve-raħa ve-raħamim ve-ħayim ve-shalom

Ve-tov be-einekha le-varekh et amkha Yisrael be-khol et u-ve-khol sha’ah bi-shlomekha

Baruch atta Adonai, ha-mevarekh et amo Yisrael ba-shalom.

Grant peace everywhere goodness and blessing,

Grace, lovingkindness and mercy to us and unto all Israel, Your people.

Bless us, our Father, all of us as one with the light of Your face;

For by the light of Your face You have given us, Adonai our God,

The Torah of life, and love of kindness, and righteousness and blessing and mercy and life and peace;

And may it be good in Your eyes to bless Your people Israel at all times and in every hour with Your peace.

Praised are You, Adonai, who blesses His people Israel with peace.