ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 201

Promoted Content The Times of Israel - Promoted Content
October 7th atrocities
October 7th atrocities

Walking on Broken Glass

In the aftermath of October 7th, foundations and intuitions the Jewish world had relied upon were violently shattered.

I have walked the Israeli border communities of the Gaza Strip many times since October 7th. Each step is taken hesitantly. There is shattered glass beneath my feet in every direction, even four months later. That is an apt metaphor for the emotions Zionists worldwide are experiencing.

When the massacre happened on the fateful black Sabbath, I began writing a daily blog to channel my feelings and frustrations, anger and rage as a way of sharing with my community and reading circle. I titled it “Streams of Anxious Consciousness.” At the time, my fear and anxiety had a stronghold over me.

Fifty entries later, when the daily articles evolved into a book, I deliberately changed the title to “Streams of Shattered Consciousness.” My anxiety had not abated but my heart and head felt like the ground encircling the Gaza Strip, strewn with shattered glass, broken dreams, and demolished hopes.

We have been forced to learn painful lessons through this dark chapter in our history. I believe that along with the Exodus from Egypt, the expulsion from Spain, the Holocaust and the Establishment of the modern State of Israel, October 7th will be recorded as a pivotal watershed moment in the arc of Jewish history. These moments in our story all share the commonality of broken realities that forge new chapters. The aftermath of October 7th has been comprised of foundations and intuitions the Jewish world has relied on that have been violently shattered.

For example: many people naively thought Jewish kids felt safe as Jews and protected on college campuses. We foolishly thought giving Hamas money and keeping them at arm’s length was a wise strategy that would keep the terrorist group’s attention diverted. Israel believed the need for military deterrence was being outweighed by outstretched arms with neighbors who sought a lasting peace, and that the conflict with the Palestinian people was no longer front and center for the Arab world.  We erroneously posited that by allowing UNRWA to function in Gaza, which allowed multiple generations of refugee status for Palestinians, we would save precious dollars and aid would arrive to the Palestinians at the expense of other countries. The notion that Jews had arrived in America and we would be supported by other, often discriminated, groups during our Selma or Stonewall moment — as we had for other discriminated groups — was shattered into thousands of pieces on the 8th, 9th and 10th of October.

Soon after that splash of icy-cold water across our faces, the global needle moved 180 degrees to empathy for rapists, rocket launchers, kidnappers and murderers, and we became dizzy from finger wagging in Jewish faces. The thought of good triumphing over evil and morality eclipsing wickedness was violently broken into smithereens, like a piece of treasured crystal falling from the breakfront where it was on display for decades.

The hyperventilating, angst, confusion, upset, disappointment and worry that Jewish people are experiencing today, is from the shattered pieces of what we thought was our place and destiny but actually never was. It is about a broken promise. It is about a sense of belonging that wasn’t. It is like a partner finding out about their cheating mate and realizing that their marriage was never built on the solid foundation they thought. We are just sifting through the shattered pieces now and coming to grips with the pain, damage and reality.

Walking on broken glass, whether after 1938, 1948, 1973 or 2023, is an unsteady feeling. It has caused us to question long-held beliefs, come to grips with views we abhor and have the flame of hopeful idealism drenched by the reality of hatred. It is a personal comeuppance that reminds us of the fragility of our existence and the toil necessary to rebuild and reshape the broken pieces, without getting cut along the way.

We are no strangers to brokenness. The original ten commandments are broken and travel in fragments inside the Tabernacle to show our brittleness. We break a glass at a wedding to remember the destruction of the Temple and the instability in our world. Those stories and customs seemed disconnected; ancient rituals that linked us to our past. Today, the brokenness of the tablets and the shattered glass under a Chuppah reverberate in our souls. They are immanent.

In “Streams of Shattered Consciousness,” I take a deep and thoughtful look into many of the foundations that existed for the Jewish world and were viciously broken. I map out the jagged path ahead for the Jewish people in Israel and the Diaspora and a thoughtful and careful way to take those next steps.

Streams of Shattered Consciousness is available in hard or soft copy, e-reader and has just been released in Audible (Audio) format. More than 10,000 copies are in circulation in less than 3 months, and the book was featured in the February 18, 2024, edition of the NY Times Book Review.

I am hopeful that together, we can begin the process of sweeping up the glass, and through the warmth of our determination and grit, we can reshape that glass into something strong, durable and resilient for our shared future.

Rabbi David-Seth Kirshner is the senior Rabbi of Temple Emanu-El in Closter, New Jersey. Read more about Rabbi Kirschner here.

read more:
Sign in or Register
Please use the following structure: example@domain.com
Or Continue with
By registering you agree to the terms and conditions
Register to continue
Or Continue with
Log in to continue
Sign in or Register
Or Continue with
check your email
Check your email
We sent an email to you at .
It has a link that will sign you in.
Never miss breaking news on Israel
Get notifications to stay updated
You're subscribed
image
Register for free
and continue reading
Registering also lets you comment on articles and helps us improve your experience. It takes just a few seconds.
Already registered? Enter your email to sign in.
Please use the following structure: example@domain.com
Or Continue with
By registering you agree to the terms and conditions. Once registered, you’ll receive our Daily Edition email for free.
Register to continue
Or Continue with
Log in to continue
Sign in or Register
Or Continue with
check your email
Check your email
We sent an email to you at .
It has a link that will sign you in.