Rabbinic Reflections: Issue 181

October 20, 2023 (5 Cheshvan 5784)

Parasha Noach - To be Blessed with God's Gift of Shalom

Dear Friends,

I pray this correspondence finds you doing well and managing the best you can during Israel’s terrible crisis. Please join with us for Shabbat services, this Saturday morning at 10:00am, as we continue to pray as a united community for the well-being of those injured, the return of those in captivity, and for the peaceful heavenly embrace of those murdered in cold blood, last weekend, simply for the crime of being Jewish in the eternal homeland of the Jews.

Many of you are familiar with stories I have told regarding my childhood friend, Rabbi Ron, who I literally consider to be one of the Lamed Vavniks, the thirty-six supremely righteous individuals for whom the world continues to exist. Rabbi Ron has faithfully served his congregation in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, for over thirty years. Ron and I grew up together in Toronto.

When Ron moved from Canada’s capital, Ottawa, Ontario, to the big city of the Maple Leafs, I took him under my wing to “show him the ropes.” He and I went to public school together, bused to Hebrew school together, walked to shul on Shabbat together, learned together, and spent hours frolicking in the snow together, playing either hockey, football, or baseball. Our families became deeply connected, one to the other, and it was not uncommon for Ron to visit my grandmother, Bubbie Frieda, as I would similarly visit his grandfather, Zayde Menashe.

Zayde Menashe was from the old country and migrated to Canada in the 1930s. He was a humble and pious Jew, who was fortunate to find work in retail due to the beneficence of his cousin, Irving Rivers. A staple of downtown Ottawa was the Irving Rivers Store, where Zayde Menashe worked for his entire professional career, for over forty years. Today, I share with you the heart wrenching story of Irving’s great-granddaughter, Adi.

Although we know that more than 1,300 Israelis have been brutally murdered, because we live in the diaspora, many of us don’t personally know any of those who were murdered. We have trouble seeing faces. We struggle to comprehend that all of these people were somebody’s child, somebody’s mother, or somebody’s father.

Adi Vital-Kaploun, who lived on Kibbutz Holit, in southern Israel, was raised in Israel, but was also a Canadian citizen, with deep ties to her extended family in Ottawa. Adi was a devoted mother of two young children, with a successful career in cybersecurity.

According to the Canadian Jewish News, Adi was an amazing woman with so many talents. She expressed herself through dance, playing saxophone, and was an amazing basketball player. Adi was driven from a young age on a path to success in everything to which she set her mind, and this past Spring, Adi completed her master’s degree in computer science, after completing an undergraduate degree in chemical engineering.

Adi brought love, laughter, and a sense of purpose to her parents and siblings and was the one always leading the way in a very close family.

In a horrifying story, of which I will spare you the details, while saving her two children (Eshel [aged 4] & Negev [aged 4 months]), Adi, a loving mother, was murdered at her home on Kibbutz Holit by Hamas terrorists.

Adi’s family was willing to share their story so that we could have a face of but one of those 1,300 families who are in pain, who are shattered, all because of the terrorist entity Hamas. Ironically, we read the Torah portion of Noah this week, during which Hashem determines that the generation of the flood must be destroyed because the world is full of Hamas (meaning violence).

As Jews, we deplore the loss of innocent civilians, but please remember that there can be no moral equivocation until the hostages are returned. There can be no apologies until the terrorist organization of Hamas, dedicated to the death of all Jews, especially those in Israel, is fully eradicated. There can be no regrets until our homeland and its inhabitants are secure.

While a plethora of social media feeds proliferate propaganda and blatant anti-Semitism, it is easy to fall into the trap of questioning Israel’s military reaction. As President Biden referenced, while all Americans remember in horror the date of 9/11, we would be served to similarly recall the emotions, anger, and call to action experienced on 9/12. In the same way that the United States was forced to defend itself in the face of terror, so too, must Israel do so now.

As I continue to be in daily touch with numerous young people, former students, and friends, I reflect on the powerful passage of our liturgy which reads, Adonai Oz L’Amo Yiten, Adonai Yevarech et Amo VaShalom (Hashem will give the people strength, so that they can be ultimately blessed with God’s gift of Shalom.)

May that Shalom come speedily and in our day.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Eric L. Wasser, EdD, Hon.DM
Tel: 201-562-5277

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