London Calling

It's been a pretty strange and depressing week. The news has been terrifying, and online it's been hard to distinguish between rumours and fear and actual, vile violence and horror.
Some jokes have been born, and some political satire, but mostly people have been trying to establish why it happened, how it happened, what are the causes? could it be stopped? My own liberal sensibilities have clashed with my deep sense of shock and outrage, and debates have flown back and forth. One of the most interesting discussions for me was on Tuesday night, when a group of WLS Young Adults had an evening of study before breaking bread together to end the fast of Tisha B'Av, which commemorates the destruction of the Temple and so many other disasters through history, caused by humans inhumanity.
We poignantly began with the first verse of Lamentations "How does the city sit solitary, that was full of people! How is she become as a widow! She that was great among the nations, and princesses among the provinces, how is she become divided". It seemed we could have been talking about London. Then we explored the reasons the rabbis variously gave for the destruction of Jerusalem: I wrote earlier in the week about the causeless hatred attributed in Talmud Gittin 55b-56a, but in Shabbat 119b various different reasons are posited for the destruction; from the desecration of shabbat to the neglecting of children's education. No one cause was agreed upon, but all of them together seem to suggest a need for individuals to take personal responsibility, and to take communal responsibility. Perhaps as our arguments go back and forward, this same balance is still what we need to find. Of course one of the main differences is that Jerusalem was destroyed by a conquering army. London, Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool were set upon by their own citizens.
There have of course been warming examples of people taking this communal responsibility. While I am one of many that would fear interfering in direct violence (the numbers filming on iphones rather than getting involved speak to this). But together many have also come together to make a positive difference. The hordes clearing the streets have helped to put things right, and support for those publicly hurt like Ashraf Haziq and Aaron Biber have touched many. But of course there are so many others whose stories haven't captured the headlines who need support. There are ways to donate all over London. Of course it won't undo what has been done, which will take at least a generation to fix if the right work is done, but it shows that there are positives we can contribute to, even when feeling scared and hopeless.


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