Ronnie Katz Gerber
Communications Chair, Hadassah Los Angeles Metro Region

Best Mother’s Day Gift This Year? A D’Var Hadassah

Author Ronnie Gerber Katz and her granddaughters Sarah Sakai and Leah Sakai. Photo courtesy of the author.
Author Ronnie Gerber Katz and her granddaughters Sarah Sakai and Leah Sakai. Photo courtesy of the author.

Parashat Kedoshim, the Torah reading that falls on the Shabbat before Mother’s Day this year, instructs the Israelites to be holy. And then it tries to define holy by enumerating a set of laws to regulate all aspects of life, including, and, most appropriately for Mother’s Day, “Love your neighbor’s welfare as if it were your own.”

This year, there are few neighbors who are not at war. Ukraine, Russia, Iran, Syria, Israel and so much of Africa are being ripped apart. So, I put it to you: How do we make these siblings from different parents see that they are one? How do we care for our children and their future? Where are the protectors, the mothers of our earth?

I am reminded of the protests of my youth over the Viet Nam War — so very different and yet similar enough to the current protests over the Hamas-Israel War. College students today have no idea how much they are shadowing that tumultuous time with their own versions of free speech.

But it is not the same. The act of protesting and the foreign instigation of it  might be the only similarities. This time there is no American soundtrack — no songs or calls for peace reverberating with an American voice.

The lyrics of John Lennon’s song Imagine remind us that we’ve been here before–that it’s different but the same:

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too.
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace.

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one.

To be holy, we are to don the mantle of motherhood and cherish these upstart children, so they grow toward peace and unity. “What the world needs now is love,” as Burt Bacharach tells us in his song of that name.

We need to remember also Edwin Starr’s War, which asks:

War, huh, Yeah!
What is it good for?
Absolutely nothing….

War, I despise
‘Cause it means destruction of innocent lives
War means tears to thousands of mothers’ eyes
When their sons go out to fight
And lose their lives….

We also had the voice of Marvin Gaye, who sang What’s Going On?:

Mother, mother
There’s too many of you crying
Brother, brother, brother
There’s far too many of you dying
You know we’ve got to find a way
To bring some loving here today.

Father, father
We don’t need to escalate
You see, war is not the answer
For only love can conquer hate
You know we’ve got to find a way
To bring some loving here today.

Picket lines and picket signs
Don’t punish me with brutality
Talk to me, so you can see
What’s going on.

And the voice of Buffalo Springfield in For What It’s Worth:

There’s something happening here
But what it is ain’t exactly clear
There’s a man with a gun over there
Telling me I got to beware.

I think it’s time we stop
Children, what’s that sound?
Everybody look, what’s going down?

There’s battle lines been drawn
Nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong
Young people speaking their minds
Getting so much resistance from behind.

As we cherish the memory of our personal Mother’s Day, let’s imagine a world without hatred, a world where antisemitism is so far in our past that no one can recall its existence.

Imagine a Mother’s Day for mothers who have no need for tears.  Only then will we be holy.

Here’s how  you can help Hadassah fight antisemitism.

Ronnie Katz Gerber is a member of the Hadassah Educators Council.

About the Author
Ronnie Katz Gerber is currently Communications Chair for the Hadassah Metro Los Angeles Region and a member of the Hadassah Writers' Circle. A retired English and drama teacher for one of the largest school districts in California, she has written, directed and produced a handful of curriculum-based plays for her students and received a Los Angeles Awards nomination for her educational outreach through the arts. She has now turned her attention to columns, articles and short stories. Ms. Gerber is active in the community doing volunteer work and also spends her time pursuing her avid interest in travel. She has visited most of Europe, Russia and Africa, China and a bit of South America as well. Most springs, she hosts foreign exchange students for a month while they take an American culture and language crash course at a local university. As a result, she has spent time with them and their families abroad. Her family, especially her grand girls are the best activity of any day.
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