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Shabbat Shalom from Lynn Kaston


Lynn Kaston – a member of Federation's Board of Directors – shared her perspective on the Torah portion Kedoshim in the national Women's Philanthropy newsletter.

The Torah portion this week is from Leviticus and named Kedoshim (קדושים), which means “holy.” It describes the holy community through a series of specific commandments. Holiness and honesty are of prime importance.

One of the laws of holiness states, "You shall not steal, nor deal falsely, nor lie to one another"(Leviticus 19:11). Another part of what we read in the parasha discusses not taking revenge or bearing a grudge but loving your neighbor as yourself—“You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord” (19:18). This so resonated with me in the wake of the bombings in Jerusalem, Paris, Brussels and around the world.

Several years ago while on a Leadership Succession Initiative mission to Israel and our Partnership region in the north, I had an opportunity to visit Ziv Hospital. There, I saw Syrian soldiers and civilians being treated at one of the country’s finest hospitals with medicine and prosthetic devices they could not get elsewhere. Upon complete recovery, they returned home. They did not have to come to Ziv. They did so because their families knew they would receive treatment there superior to that available in Lebanon or Syria. They chose Ziv and knew they would not be turned away. I do wonder, though, when they return home from Ziv, Hadassah and other hospitals, whether their thoughts about Israel are permanently changed.

We asked the doctors how they were able to treat these people with such compassion. The answer was, “We are humanitarians first.” They treated all regardless of ethnicity. They saw beyond war and hatred.

So I wonder…would the previously wounded remember the treatment they received and praise Israel or choose to forget and continue the hatred? It must be so difficult to look past our biases and see all our fellow humans as equally deserving of care, yet Israeli physicians do this every day. It seems only the Israeli physicians can look beyond nationality. They truly live the according to the principals of tikkun olam, healing the world, and gimilut chasadim, acts of loving kindness.

I often grapple with the fact we are not supposed to literally return “an eye for an eye.” We are supposed to do the right thing and often this puts us and Israel at a distinct disadvantage. Do you know of any other country that scatters leaflets warning civilians before a bombing?

I know to do the right thing. I was told from a very young age to set the example for my three younger sisters. But, I still find many issues hard to resolve. I guess that’s what leadership and learning are all about – coming to terms with issues even when they are beyond your comfort level.

I wish you all a peaceful and enjoyable Shabbat.

Lynn Kaston

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