IT has been a huge week for the Jewish people. Some significant Jewish yahrzeits this week, and unfortunately, some new ones added, that will begin to be observed next year.
Rachel Immeinu, our patriarch Rachel, mother Rachel, is always observed on the eleventh of Cheshvan. But how much more poignant regardless of where some of us stand on the wisdom of the Shalit prisoner swap is the day this year. Throughout Jewish history the biblical promise of Jeremiah made to Rachel has become her mantra, ve-shavu vanim li-gevulam, the children will return to their borders. We as a people just lived through those very words, seeing them come to life in the return of Gilad Shalit from captivity back to our homeland, the land of Israel.
November fourth. That terrible grey winter day in 1995 when Yitzhak Rabin, prime minister of Israel, was assassinated. The horror we as a people lived through of Jew killing Jew. It happened on a Shabbat. I remember that particular detail, because as a Sabbath-observant Jew, for those 24 hours I normally have no idea what the news is. The radio, telephone and computer-for those 24 hours are all unplugged. The Sabbath bring us into a different sphere of living. A taste of the world to come. the tranquility of the Sabbath.
BUT that particular Shabbat I happened to be volunteering at Sloan Kettering Memorial Hospital. I was sleeping there for the Sabbath with a child undergoing cancer treatment in order to give the family a bit of a break from the intensity of coping with such illness, and to enable the parents to be with their other children at home.