Unification News for December 2004

Dark Night of the Soul ­ an open letter to Israel

Lloyd Howell
December 2004

My dearest Israel, This morning I awoke before the dawn hour with worry and concern about what will become of you and your children. I live in the relative safety and comfort of Long Island, New York, but I think of you constantly. In fact I, as a Peace Volunteer, have made three trips to visit you over the past 12 months and now feel compelled to write! May a friend share his thoughts with you?

I perceive that you are now in a dark hour of the soul ­ a time when haunting memories and undefined fears press in on all sides, a time when one can lose his way. At this time I am drawn to your side and stand with you.

You now have your own country and I rejoice with you and sing Œalleluia¹. I have seen some of your dream cities rising out of desolate places ­ you are to be applauded. I have seen your synagogues standing tall and your Star of David flying unabashedly. I have seen the lions of Judah in their prayer shawls. I yearn to dance the 'hora' with you in your green & voluptuous fields and revel in the beauty of life. I want to walk in your still and silent desert and listen for the quiet voice of YHVH. I have tasted the tahini and unforgettable hummus. But all is not well; the fears and baggage of the past, yours and mine, do not easily dissipate and all too often they remain to impinge on the present simultaneously giving shape to the future. I have recognized your suspicion of strangers and in so doing I confess I have, at times, hesitated to reach out and unflinchingly hug your black-coated rabbis.

Oh Israel, your name stirs something deep in my soul; a forgotten Jew [past ancestor] who has not forgotten you. I tremble in anticipation of the thought of returning again to your & my beloved Jerusalem. I want so much to drink a toast to your future, to shout "le chayim" but again there is a demon at the door threatening that glorious new day. One preying upon your soul wanting to take what the Holocaust couldn¹t. I talk of your humanity, your G-d given sense of justice and mercy. I fear it is being imperceptibly eaten away by the demons that haunt you.

You know of what I talk. I talk of the unspeakable tragedy, the undigested and unforgotten pain that is at the root of your rebirth. Yes you were utterly betrayed by humanity and most of all Christianity [with the exception of all too few righteous ones]. But now in some bizarre twist of fate you are building [and not without reason] a wall similar to the one others once built around you. And now you require IDs by which you can tell the race and religion of another ­ not unlike the Œbadges¹ that others had you wear. And you setup checkpoints and sometimes round them up in the middle of the night and search their homes. Almost unconsciously you¹re making their land into the very ghetto you once despised, slowly, little by little, hardly noticing the callousness that is taking root in your soul. I wonder how far this will go?

Yes you have enemies but you imagine many more than there are. And the demons in your soul press you hard, the result being policies and actions that often create more enemies. Please try to imagine friends! I know that among many of you such a call is heresy, appearing to be a siren song lulling you into letting your guard down.

Yes, you are stuck in a hard place. You are not asked to do an easy thing. It is hard to imagine friends when so many pray for your downfall. But you do have undiscovered, potential and actual friends ­ they too pray for you and peace. Search them out and cultivate them with even more vigor than you pursue and defend against your enemies.

But standing in the way are these demons that tear at your soul whispering thoughts to remove the unwanted and subhuman Arab from your midst, to drive them out or simply continue to keep them apart as you were kept apart in that dark 2,000 year time in Christian Europe.

The above-mentioned failed history that culminated in the Holocaust was indeed a dark & dastardly period but still you had not become like them; the persecutors, the anti-Semites. You were better; you held on to your humanity, your Torah and your hope for Zion and a new day.

Oh Israel I can not forget you and if I should may my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth and may I be struck down by thirst in the wilderness. Oh Israel I beseech you to reach out for that promised day. Cover yourself in your prayer shawl and call upon your Redeemer to wash, with His holy light, the fears that lurk in the hills and valleys of your soul. In this way I know you can prevail and be victorious once again.

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