Susan Barth
Susan Barth
Advocate for Marriage Education in Israel

Surfside and Yearning for Shalom

There is an undeniable juxtaposition between this week’s Torah portion of Pinchas and the tragedy of Surfside – and it rests on the word Shalom.

In this week’s Torah portion of Pinchas, the subject of the portion, Pinchas, the grandson of Aaron, is granted by Hashem the Covenant of Peace. The commentator Rashi elaborates on this designation by saying:

“It should be for him a covenant of peace. Just as a person who is thankful and gracious to him who deals kindly with him, so here the Holy One Blessed be He assured him of his peace.”

Surfside and the Yearning for Peace

This past week since the collapse of the condominium in Surfside, Florida with its tragic consequences, has witnessed the most extraordinary outpouring of humanity to provide that same “Covenant of Peace” – in mind and spirit to the survivors and families of the unaccounted and victims.

The heroism displayed by the first responders and continual presence and involvement of government officials on every level and social service agencies is a reminder of the one value we share in highest esteem – the sanctity of life and the need to preserve it at all costs.

A Salute to the Israeli teams

As an Israeli by choice, I have incredible pride and gratitude to those IDF’s National Rescue Unit and United Hatzalah of Israel delegation members whose sacrifice and commitment to help humanity in any worldwide disaster is without parallel. Seeing the Israeli emblem on their uniforms makes them the greatest ambassadors of love and commitment that we could have. The papers are full of the peace of mind that their presence has given to the families in Surfside whose lives have been completely shattered. These angels of mercy represent the essence of what Judaism stands for and the best principles for which our country was established.

What Can We Each Do for the Sake of Peace?

There are many reactions you hear and read about with the reporting and coverage of the collapse, many focusing on the blame and the man made reasons. But what resonates to me the most – are the responses from the Chabad Emissaries who are in the forefront of the relief efforts in Surfside. Rabbi Rabbi Sholom Lipskar, the Shaliah and founder of The Shul of Bar Harbor, immediately said that the only response is one of giving extra love, empathy and doing good deeds and studying Torah.

It is very poignant that this tragedy occurred immediately before the Three Weeks leading up to Tisha B’Av. One of the events commemorated is the destruction of the First Temple built by Solomon. One of the reasons cited was senseless hatred. If ever there is a time to work on converting senseless hatred to senseless love it is now.

What is always the most heartbreaking aspects of any tragedy is the toll it takes on the family members. Reading today’s Times of Israel accounting of the dead and missing shows the gamut of lives which have been uprooted – and for whom their lives are in suspension pending a miracle.

Resources for Shalom Bayit

The Amuta Together in Happiness/B’Yachad B’Osher was founded for one reason only – to provide resources for shalom bayit. We continue to offer free relationship courses to engaged and newly married couples – for one reason only – to create foundations for real shalom and provide the essential communication and conflict management skills for ensuring such shalom is preserved. We invite all engaged and newly married couples living in Israel to avail themselves of these free resources including an online relationship course named ePREP and participation in our workshops I-PREP. Please write for details.

This Shabbat 

As we enter this Shabbat, may we focus on shalom in our homes and engage in acts of loving kindness and may our prayers be answered for miracles in Surfside. Most of all, may the Covenant of Peace extend to every home. Shabbat shalom.

About the Author
Susan Barth is founder and director of Israeli non profit Together in Happiness/B'Yachad B'Osher, promoting stronger, healthier marriages impacting Israeli society. A Project Management Professional (PMP) and businesswoman from the US, Susan sponsored and chaired the First International Conference on Marriage Education in Israel (attended by over 360 professionals) in Jerusalem in memory of her parents and launched I-PREP, an innovative marriage education curriculum. On November 8, 2017, Together in Happiness co-hosted with MK Yehudah Glick a historic Knesset seminar promoting government support for pre-marriage education
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