Matthew Soffer

Being Played, Playing Along, and Praying for Facts

As I pray for a ceasefire to this conflict, looking back on how it flared up, I am haunted by the facts.

I am haunted by the reality of Israel’s vulnerability, haunted by the prospect of a world without a Jewish State.

I am haunted by the fact that Hamas continually launches missiles into Israel, targeting my people, my friends.

I am haunted by the fact that Hamas’ leadership tactically dwells among civilians, using their children’s flesh as shields.

I am a teacher, pained by the news that three Israeli children were brutally murdered, shot to death because of hatred.

I am a rabbi, shocked by the June 10th story by J.J. Goldberg contending that Prime Minister Netanyahu knew these children were murdered within hours of their death.

I am a parent, confused by the report of the Prime Minister’s subsequent gag order on reporting their deaths, a tactical play for a global campaign, at the expense of parents’ and people’s false hope.

I am a lover of Israel, befuddled by the mere possibility that this report, this story, may indeed be a fact.

I am not an unbiased, objective collector of facts.

I am a shareholder in the Jewish future.

The fact is: my gut aches as I pray for the safety of my people who are surrounded by enemies.  Yet the fact is also: my conscience cries as I contemplate the unconscionable suffering in Gaza.

Last night I lay in bed, wide awake all night, the facts of this war colliding almost violently in my mind. This morning I lifted my body out of bed, the facts having tumbled and polished each other into questions:

  • How can we understand what is real or what is fabrication, without open, objective reporting?
  • How can we know which plays, which tactics, warrant fervent advocacy, without trusting the very players who lead?
  • Who is “being played” here?
  • Who here is “playing along”?

I am a Jew, a teacher, a rabbi, a parent, a lover of Israel, desperately trying to pray and live with an honest, truthful semblance of the facts.

About the Author
Matthew Soffer is the Senior Associate Rabbi at Temple Israel of Boston, where he leads the social justice efforts, practicing congregation-based community organizing with the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization (GBIO). Matt serves on the Advisory Council of the Pluralism Project at Harvard University, the Board of the Jewish Alliance for Law and Social Action (JALSA), the Massachusetts Board of Rabbis, and the Rabbinic Council of Hand-in-Hand Center for Jewish-Arab Education in Israel.
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