Dear Friends,

I am writing to you from Cincinnati, Ohio where Jodi and I are spending time with her family. As we were preparing for Shabbat, we heard about the awful attacks in Paris. Before the news came, we were getting ready for a time that was supposed to be peaceful and refreshing. After the news came, that peace never seemed more elusive. With disbelief, we watched a situation that seemed at once altogether new in its destruction but also depressingly familiar.

Jewish tradition places the highest value on human life. Our Torah teaches that each and every person is created in the image of God and therefore to attack a human being is tantamount to attacking God. The only word that I can think of that accurately describes yesterdays activities is “evil”.

France’s values of liberty, equality and fraternity are universal values that the Jewish tradition has long promoted. Every weekday, three times a day, Jews recite the prayer, “Sound the great shofar to proclaim our freedom, raise a great banner for our oppressed and let the voice of liberty be heard in the four corners of the earth.” The great rabbis in the Talmud taught we are all descended from Adam and Eve so that none may say that their lineage is greater than another’s. We are all one human family. Liberty, equality and fraternity. These are French values and these are Jewish values. During this difficult time, Jews around the world are standing in solidarity with France.

Despite the terrible attacks yesterday, despite the fact that evil never really seems to go away, I still have faith in the future. I still have faith that one day that which is good inside each of us will prevail over our evil inclinations. I still have faith that justice and mercy have more power than wickedness and terror and that, in time, peace will triumph over war.

As Shabbat departs, we traditionally say, “Shavua Tov, may you have a good week.” Perhaps tonight, though, we can say, “Shavua Yoter Tov, may this coming week be better.”

May God who makes peace in the high heavens make peace down below for us and for all the world.

L’shalom, to peace,

Rabbi Jason Holtz