PAMOGRAM OCTOBER 16, 2023
Dorothy Pam, Town Councilor, old District 3/new District 4
#1. OUR NEXT COMMUNITY DISTRICT MEEETING WILL BE ON ZOOM DECEMBER 6, 2023 6:30pm Details to follow
This newsletter includes the following:
- District Meeting Date
- Updates on Town of Amherst Covid Vaccine clinics,
- Change of date on LWV candidate forums on Library Trustees and School Committee, and
- Rabbi Benjamin Weiner’s Remarks at Vigil at the Jewish Community of Amherst.
#2. I asked Rabbi Weiner to share his remarks on Hamas’ attack on civilians October 7th to those who gathered at the Jewish Community of Amherst on Monday October 9th. Although I know that most of you are not Jewish, you too may have family and friends caught up in this international disaster. We all are feeling strong emotions but still trying to keep our balance. My thought was that Rabbi Weiner’s remarks might help us as we all face this frightening and confusing time.
Rabbi Weiner’s words from the JCA vigil 10/9/2023
Our goal for tonight is to be in solidarity with each other—and I understand that word to mean not lockstep unity, but loving relationship—holding reality together, despite the tensions that may also exist between the different ways we see some aspects of it. I hope we will be in solidarity tonight amongst ourselves as a Jewish community, with the Jews up and down this Valley who are gathering together at this very moment—at Temple Beth El in Springfield, at CBI in Northampton, as well as here–with global Jewry, with our brothers and sisters in the State of Israel, with all innocents who are impacted by hatred and senseless violence.
We gather in this place—in our sanctuary—to express our grief and anger, our fear and despair, our confusion and our resilience, and to seek, at least for a time, comfort and consolation in the experience of being together, and being joined in our experience of the reality of all of these things.
I’m going to try to articulate some thoughts. I want to first apologize to you in advance if any way in which I do that causes you some discomfort and upset. I feel—to use a metaphor that is all too apropos—like I am underneath the rubble of a collapsed house, trying to lift one heavy beam after another off of my crushed body, as I try to come up toward some sense of clarity and response to the horrors we are experiencing. These thoughts are not particularly organized, or in the service of one particular agenda. They just represent my efforts to try to lift up some of this debris.
What is happening now in Israel is happening to us. There are members of this very community with loved ones who are missing, who are injured, who are dead, who are prisoners. This is not some cliched moment of blue-and-white social media memes. By virtue of love and kinship we are one body, we are all participants in the Jewish experience of history and place, and this has happened to us.
Jewish historical experience has not afforded us the luxury of the kind of moral purity that others might profess, to know exactly what is right and wrong, and to live in the fantasy of a pure consonance between our ideals and our actions. We have moral responsibility, and we can point toward clear examples of the failure to exercise it, but we also live out the terms of a survival that has been dictated to us by history, by oppression, and by our own right to survive.
Israeli Jewish blood is not cheap, and it is not licensed to flow in the streets because somehow “they deserve it,” because “the chickens have come home to roost,” because they are themselves responsible for its being spilled. It is spilled by butchers and criminals; and when it is spilled like this, indiscriminately, unfortunately, the response cannot just be grand gestures of universal goodwill, but efforts to put a stop to terror and murder. I am, indeed, as a passive person, sorry that this is so, and I recognize concerns about how this is done and don’t discount them. But we need to understand that such actions, at their core, are efforts by people who love other people to not have those people murdered, terrorized, kidnapped. These are not “genocidal acts of a settler-colonial project,” but, on some essential and immediate level, acts of self-defense that I think most of us, if we really thought about it, would also advocate for if we found the buses in which we put our children being blown up by suicide bombers; the houses in which we live subject to indiscriminate rocket fire, our beautiful youth massacred at dance parties, our babies and elders terrorized and mutilated. Anyone who says otherwise, I suspect, has not really thought it through.
Many of us have long harbored concerns for the actions of successive Israeli governments, especially this one, for the direction in which it has been leading the country, both with regard to internal policy, and the endless and intensifying brutal military occupation and settlement of the West Bank, and the agony of Gaza. There are many acts of Palestinian resistance and self-emancipation that deserve our attention and, perhaps, allyship, as a Jewish community concerned about justice and human rights. This was not one of them. This is the most egregious in a long legacy of orgiastic acts of violence, bankrolled by powerful governments with imperialistic ambitions, undertaken by exploitative thugs with their own ambitions, and dripping with authoritarian and genocidal intent. While we might, in a generous frame of mind, understand why a downtrodden people will rally behind butchers who wreak violence in their name, we must not confuse one for the other, and we should be courageous ourselves in opposing even those in our progressive circles who choose to see no difference.
When I have seen images of a father in Gaza cradling his dead child in his arms, I respond with the anguished empathy of a father. There is some feature in my conscience that sears this images even deeper into my psyche than the images of Israeli suffering, and I wonder if I, too, have imbibed the self-immolating narrative of the
left that Israelis are not “real people”, just as I know some of my family feels that way about Palestinians. Maybe it is out of awareness that our side is far better resourced and theirs will always suffer more in the end, though we will continue to debate who is to blame; or that their misery is a by-product of our survival, or maybe it arises because I get to live in Deerfield and not Sderot. I only know for sure that they have, are, and will continue to suffer horribly, and this is also one of the beams I am trying to lift off my crushed body.
Somebody asked me a day or two ago what we should hope for, and, in the wisdom of my flippancy, or the flippancy of my wisdom, I responded, “We should hope for hope.” We do this by holding on to our resolve, even in the absence of resolution—by knowing and committing to all of the things we must continue to stand and advocate for: the life, well-being, and defense of Am Yisrael, the grieving for victims and the release of captives, our dignity in the face of a world that would judge us without understanding, and without walking in our shoes, the difference between justice and depravity, between the oppressed and the butcher, the inextricability of our pain from the suffering of our counterparts.
We must find resolve within ourselves to lift up all of these causes, even as we wrestle with the confusion and despair in our spirits. And we do this—we hope for hope—by continuing, relentlessly, to lift up beam after beam, beam after beam, beam after beam, while dreaming that we can somehow salvage from this rubble enough timber to knock up the frame for a house of peace.
#3. UPDATE ON LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS (LWV) CANDIDATE FORUMS
October 18 is now the date for the candidates for the Jones Library Board of Trustees 7:00 pm and Regional School Board at 8:00 pm at the Amherst Regional High School (ARHS) auditorium.
From the Amherst Indy we learn about the Amherst Health Department plans for Covid Vaccines
Health Director’s Update
The new COVID vaccine is now widely available commercially (e.g. at Stop and Shop, CVS, and Walgreens) so the town has not been able to acquire a big stock of vaccine. But the Health Department is working with Northampton’s Health and Human Services Department and Loren Davine, the Hampshire County MRC Coordinator, to organize three vaccine clinics that are designed primarily to serve Amherst residents who are uninsured or under-insured. The clinics are as follows:
- The Clark House clinic is on October 26, from 1-2:30 p.m. and it is primarily for its residents
- The Craigs Doors clinic is on November 2, from 7-8:30 p.m. at Immanuel Lutheran Church. While this is also primarily for Craig’s Doors guests, they won’t turn anyone away.
- The Senior Center clinic is on November 7, from 9-12:30 PM and will be held at the Bangs Center and is the one that’s open to the public.
All these clinics will be providing both the updated COVID shot and flu vaccine. People interested in these clinics are asked to register either online through this link: https://home.color.com/vaccine/register/northampton or over the phone by calling this number: 413-587-1314. This team is holding other clinics in the area which can be found on this link: https://northamptonma.gov/2219/Flu-and-COVID-Vaccine-Clinics.
This information is not yet posted on the Health Department web site but will be added soon.
The vaccine that the health department currently has in stock is mandated for use with people who do not have insurance. All these clinics will be providing both the updated COVID shot and flu vaccine. People interested in these clinics are asked to register either online through this link: https://home.color.com/vaccine/register/northampton or over the phone by calling this number: 413-587-1314.
#4. OFFICE HOURS: Town Councilors Jennifer Taub and Dorothy Pam
NOV 4, 2023 at 10:00 am—12:00 pm at the Jones Library, 2nd floor in the Amherst Room.
Come to chat, come to complain, come to exchange ideas. Tea and cookies are served.