Dear Friend,

It seems the world is facing an unusual amount of conflict and turmoil. Russia and Ukraine are at war; both Syria and South Sudan continue to face ongoing internal violence; the US struggles with gun violence; Iraq is being terrorized by ISIS; Nigeria by Boko Haram; Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone are battling the Ebola virus; the list goes on.

And then there’s our beloved Israel, described in this week’s Torah portion as a land flowing with milk and honey, blessed with the seven kinds, and constantly under G‑d’s watchful eye. Our brothers and sisters in the Holy Land are once more facing an ongoing barrage of rockets from Gaza.

This week we mark the 15th of Av, which the Talmud describes as one of the greatest festivals of the year. One of the events we mark on this day is that the dead of Betar—Jews killed by the Roman legions nearly two thousand years ago in a bloody massacre—were released for burial, bringing closure to a terrible period of our history. It is my fervent wish that the 15th of Av once again usher in news that these horrific conflicts all come to an end, in a world awash with peace and harmony—but this time forever.

Miriam Szokovski
on behalf of the Editorial Team