Over a week ago, two Israeli Druze soldiers were shot and killed by terrorists on the Temple Mount. This past Friday, along with a small group of colleagues from the Hartman Institute where we are studying, I made the trip up to Hurfeish, near the Lebanon border. We went to give condolences to the family of one of those soldiers.
Kamil Shannan (z”l – of blessed memory) came from a prominent Druze family. His father was a Member of Knesset (the Israeli parliament), and the Druze community as a whole stands out for its service in the Israeli military and police force. Although they are not Jewish, they have all the rights and responsibilities of citizenship, and they place great value on courage and service.
We were received with great hospitality and respect; our coming to honour Kamil was seen as an honourable act. We heard from the father of one of Kamil’s friends in the army, who spoke movingly about how his son misses Kamil’s presence and his laughter. We heard from a relative of Kamil’s fiancée, whom he had been set to marry in the fall. And we heard from Kamil’s father, who, embracing us, said that more than anything he wants us to carry the message that we all are brothers.
There is significant equality in Druze society, but the women of the family were mourning in a different room than the men. I was welcomed into the room with the men, and also was permitted to extend our group’s condolences to the women, including Kamil’s mother. To both rooms, we carried the message: we are here as rabbis, who love Israel as you do, grateful for your son’s ultimate service; and we are here as parents, extending our hearts for this deep and most painful loss. Both parents expressed the hope that their son’s death would be the last.
Would that it were so. Even as I write, there are new clashes in the Old City of Jerusalem. But as one of the villagers said to Kamil’s father: “We came to strengthen you, and we leave strengthened.”
Addendum: our visit to Hurfeish was follows by news of terrible attack in Halamish, in which three members of a family were murdered at their Shabbat table by a Palestinian terrorist. Tensions continue to escalate, though the part of Jerusalem in which I live and study is quiet. Along with the Rabbinic Leadership Initiative, of which I am a part, the Hartman Institute also hosts Christian and Muslim leaders each summer. We are trying to build connections with each other and learn from sacred texts, even as tensions in Jerusalem increase. We are studying history and theology, culture and politics. I choose to believe that these efforts make a difference. I believe that our insistence on confronting complexity, and approaching challenges with open minds and willing hearts, will ultimately help bring understanding. May peace come in our days.
Senior Rabbi Lisa Grushcow