Enduring Compassion, Israel Independence Day, 18 Days Omer, Netzach ShebeRachamim

Today is eighteen days, which is two weeks and four days of the Omer, in the year 5781. נצח שברחמים, Netzach ShebeRachamim, Enduring Compassion. It is also Israel Independence Day.

It is a strange thing to be an American Jew. So much of organized Judaism is connected to Zionism, while many unaffiliated Jews are wary of claiming affinity with Israel. Plus, in many progressive circles, one is denounced and shut out for daring to proclaim oneself a Zionist. Last year, I wrote about my journey from “peace” activist to Zionist.

Just to be perfectly clear: Zionism is the “radical” notion that the Jewish people deserve self-autonomy and self-government in our historical homeland. Since Canaanites no longer exist, Jews are the original, indigenous inhabitants of Israel. I completely and without hesitation believe Jewishness is an ethnic identity as well as a religious identity. I know my people’s history well enough to appreciate the need for a safe haven in the world. Jew hatred didn’t just happen in the 1940s — as long as we’ve been around, someone has hated us. Am Yisrael Chai! The people Israel live!

Enduring Compassion

Today, I joined Comic Club. Mind you, I am not the artist in my family — my partner has actually been paid under the title “art director.” We are a victim of his success — he does not feel comfortable doing art with the kids because they feel inferior compared to his quickly knocked out sketches. So, I took one for the team and became vice president of Comic Club. I helpfully learned (in my review session with the artist in residence) that our older son has a beautiful pronounced chin, which clearly should be part of my drawings. (I already knew the younger one has a square face.) Right, so that’s all I will say about Comic Club.

Except one more thing — it was a quite brilliant hour of enduring compassion for me and the kids. Rather than another hour of anxiety that no one (including me) is getting their homework done, we just played together. I don’t have the hand strength for LEGOs, or the patience for board games, so this was truly wonderful. Whether or not Comic Club ever meets again.

Remember to have enduring compassion for yourself

I am particularly writing this for everyone who, like me, is still over-seeing distance learning: have enduring compassion for yourself. And if you are facing the reality of the brutality of white supremacy in the United States. If you are scared for yourself and/or your loved ones, I pray you feel enduring compassion surrounding you.

Compassion fatigue is real

When I reflect on days that I have gone off the rails, I realize the news and my life overwhelmed me. Leave me a voice message and expect three in return. My desire for real, tangible contact outside my sweet family is boundless.

We cannot turn away from one another. If the news outside your door overwhelms you, take a break. And never forget to return and contribute to your community’s wellbeing.

הוּא הָיָה אוֹמֵר, לֹא עָלֶיךָ הַמְּלָאכָה לִגְמֹר, וְלֹא אַתָּה בֶן חוֹרִין לִבָּטֵל מִמֶּנָּה.

He [Rabbi Tarfon] used to say, it is not upon you to complete the work, nor are you free to desist from it. Pirke Avot, 2.16

Books for the journey

Previously on this day…

Eternal Beauty While Social Distancing, 5780 / 2020.

Enduring Truth, 5779 / 2019.

Creating Beautiful Order, 5778 / 2018.

Praying for Enduring Compassion, 5777 / 2017.

Israel Independence Day is on the 5th of Iyyar, unless that day is too close to Shabbat. 5 Iyyar is Shabbat in 5781, so Yom Ha’Atzmaut is being celebrated today, on the 3rd of Iyyar. My journey to Zionism written on the 20th day of the Omer in 5780.


Image of the Tel Aviv coastline by Naya Shaw via Pexels.

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