A well-known Jewish saying, attributed to Reb Simcha Bunem, an 18th century Hasidic rebbe, says that we should each hold two slips of paper in our pockets. On one should be written, “The world was created for me,” and, on the other, “I am but dust and ashes.” This teaching is a call to our humanity and humility, it reminds us that what we say and do matters. The tension at the heart of this teaching is compelling, and also reflects the rich dualities and tensions of Jewish tradition and modern Jewish life, including the tension between the particular and the universal.

Right now, from the comfort and safety of our homes — on stolen Pawtucket, Massa-adchu-es-et land in Turtle Island — we are feeling a different kind of tension, except this time it is one of loneliness and isolation, heartbreak on heartbreak.

We are feeling heartbreak, devastation, horror, and grief in response to the unconscionable massacre committed by Hamas. We are mourning the lives of innocent people who have been horrifically murdered. We are stricken with pain for the hundreds of people who are still being held captive in Gaza by Hamas. We are terrified for our family and friends who live in Israel/Palestine.

And, we are feeling heartbreak, devastation, horror, and grief in response to Israel’s pummeling of Gaza. We are mourning the loss of innocent life. We are terrified for Palestinians in Gaza, who — no strangers to blockades and violence — are experiencing escalating, unconscionable levels of violence amidst a humanitarian disaster.

Sadly, regrettably, horrifically, there isn’t currently much space in the Jewish or mainstream discourse to hold these tensions, to feel shared humanity for Palestinians and Israelis alike. (Michelle Goldberg wrote about this beautifully in the New York Times this week, as did Arielle Angel in Jewish Currents.)

For funders — especially funders identifying as Jewish or motivated by Jewish values — who are also feeling this tension, who are holding to a commitment to Jewish and Palestinian safety and liberation in this unprecedented time: We see you and you’re not alone.

And we want to offer some thoughts, imperfect thoughts, written from a place of rawness, grief, and loss, but with a hope that they will offer comfort, hope, and maybe inspiration to act.

  • A war crime is a war crime. Terrorism is terrorism. Full stop.
  • And, yes, we must also consider this in context.
  • Which means we must address root causes of injustice.

So what does this mean for funders?

  • Funders have a role to play in how and who they fund.
  • Funders also have a role beyond their dollars, including using the power of their voice and advocating for structural change.
  • Funders also have a role to play in calling out antisemitism, and in taking on bad faith claims of antisemitism — at the same time.
  • Funders can listen to and elevate the voices of those most affected.
  • Funders can commit to justice and shared humanity.

Read the full article about supporting Israel/Palestine by Joanna Ware,  Rabbi Becky Silverstein, and Anonymous at The Center for Effective Philanthropy.