Dear BMC Community,
While there is always cause for heartbreak in this world, it is an especially heavy moment for so many. The escalation of violence in Gaza and Israel is catastrophic. Many of us in Anabaptist circles are connected to this region through loved ones, nonviolent resistance work and through our own religious tradition. Such connections often increase one’s capacity for awareness and action, even as we recognize that, painfully, other catastrophes occur daily, albeit further from one’s own heart and home.
Here are a few (of many) writings and resources spurring me into lament and action in this time.
Hubs for channeling grief into action:
Jewish Voice for Peace https://www.jewishvoiceforpeace.org/take-action/
US Campaign for Palestinian Human Rights https://uscpr.org/oct-2023-protests/
For deeper analysis and reflection:
AFSC’s 5 Things You Need to Know
Mennonite Palestine-Israel Network https://mennopin.org/
I deeply affirm this personal, political and theological reflection by my friend Aryeh Bernstein, Our Grief Guides Us to the Path of Empathy: Distraught Reflections on the People of Israel and Gaza. Rabbi Aryeh writes for Jewish community in the grief of this particular context and crisis. This piece also reverberates collectively, I believe, with wisdom on complex and generational trauma, politicized grief, and nonviolent action — wisdom well-known to many queer and trans Anabaptists and others impacted by ongoing religious- and state-sanctioned violence.
I am reminded how BMC’s calling — to care for lgbtqia+ Mennonites and Brethren and to challenge harmful church practices — is deeply entangled with other liberation struggles like this one, that trace their roots to Christian supremacy and colonialism. I appreciate this truth-telling lament on Israel and Gaza that reckons with Christian nationalism, written by an SCN pastor last week. (And for a primer on white Christian Supremacy and its entanglements, written from a queer perspective, I suggest this general resource from Soul Force.)
Lament for War in Israel and Gaza October 11, 2023 By Joanna Lawrence Shenk, pastor of First Mennonite Church of San Francisco FMCSF meets in the synagogue of Congregation Sha’ar Zahav for worship. As a Christian community we lament the history of Christian dominance that subjugated, persecuted, and killed Jewish people for their mere existence century upon century. We lament the history, still in lived memory, of a Christian nation committing genocide against Jewish people, snuffing out the lives of over six million Jews, along with queer, disabled and landless peoples. We sit in horror at a number so huge. As this history continues to impact the present, we lament the impacts of Christian ideology and foreign policy, making it impossible for Jewish and Palestinian people to share a homeland equitably. We lament the forced displacement of Palestinian people and the decades-long siege on Gaza. We lament US taxpayer money, in the form of weaponry, used in the violent subjugation of Palestinian people. We lament the violence enacted by Hamas, taking life and traumatizing Jewish people worldwide, who live within a history of traumatizing violence. We lament the loss of civilian life in Gaza as bombs strike hospitals, schools, and residential buildings, leaving people of all ages with no safe place to be sheltered, while the threat of a ground invasion looms. We lament how inadequately the media represents what is happening, by dehumanizing Palestinian communities and leaving out the history of Christian dominance targeting Jewish communities. We lament the tremendous loss of innocent life in Israel and Gaza. We lament the historic and current realities of occupation, displacement and death that both Palestinian and Jewish people have endured and are enduring. We lament the role that Christian dominance plays across the board, and name our own complicity in the violence that is manifesting in Gaza and Israel.
There is so much that our communities and people we love are carrying and bearing.
May we hold the scope and complexity of interlocking struggle and shared liberation. May we plug into bold action where we can. May we hold one another in grief, resilience and care. And may we hold fiercely to queer and trans joy, connection and beauty to carry us through.
As always, BMC is here for lgbtqia+ kin and our loved ones. Please reach out if you need support or accompaniment.
—Annabeth Roeschley (they/she), director