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Give me my women, (my men,) and my children…for we choose life.

11/30/2023 11:50:09 AM


Rabbi Bryan Wexler

The Torah portion this week is Vayishlach, yet all week, I have been thinking about a verse that we read in last week’s parasha, Vayeitzei, in which Jacob (Israel) says: תְּנָ֞ה אֶת־נָשַׁ֣י וְאֶת־יְלָדַ֗י “Give me my women and my children,” (Gen. 30:26). Chilling words as we have watched the news with bated breath all week as now dozens of Israeli women and children hostages have been released by Hamas from Gaza and returned to Israel.  As I wrote on Facebook earlier this week, among the Israeli hostages that have been released thus far are Hagar Brodutch and her three children, Ofri (10), Yuval (9), and Oriya (4). Soon after the vicious attacks on October 7th in Israel and the taking of 240 some hostages, Masorti (the International Movement of Conservative Judaism) paired hostages with Conservatives synagogues around the world so that we could pray for their safe return. Temple Beth Sholom was paired with the Brodutch family. For weeks we have draped a tallit over a seat on the bimah in their honor, vowing to help work to ensure their safe return to their husband and father, Avichai, and the Jewish people. 

Last Sunday, our prayers were answered when the Brodutch family was released by Hamas.  They are now reunited with Avichai and safe in Israel. Their release, among others, represents a glimmer of hope amidst these dark 8 weeks. We hope and pray more hostages will be released today and in the days to come. And to be sure, we must not rest, until ALL of the hostages are freed. We will continue to reserve a seat on our bimah for all of the hostages who remain in Gaza-a reminder that there is still much work to be done. 

As I reflect on the Israel-Hamas truce that is now in its seventh day, and as I think about the incredible effort that Israel is making to bring each and every hostage home, it brings me back to Vayishlach where we read about the reunion of brothers, Jacob and Esau For years, Jacob and Esau wanted to kill each other, but in the end, they understood what mattered most: family and LIFE.  And this is what Israel stands for…life. Judaism places the value of life above all else.  A single life is worth an entire world.  Israel lives out this value every day, but especially over the past week, doing whatever it can to bring as many of the hostages home as possible.   So, today and in the days to come, as we stand with our brothers and sisters in Israel, let’s continue to pray for life as we pray for the safety and well-being of the Israeli soldiers, as we pray for the healing of the hostages that have been returned, and as we pray for the release of all of the hostages that remain in captivity in Gaza.  BRING THEM HOME.  Give me my women, (my men,) and my children…for we choose life.

Sun, July 14 2024 8 Tammuz 5784