There is a time for everything, now is the time to stay alive

There is no doubt that we, here in Israel, need to go through some process of cheshbon nefesh, self-reflection, reconnecting with our principals for humanity and seeing the sanctity of life in all that we do. We can discuss politics, society and the educational system – all of which require serious thought & consideration. My personal feeling is that now, at this very moment, is not the time to have this conversation; I’m afraid that opinions, good will & desire to be part of Tikun Israel, healing Israel, will be misinterpreted & brushed off by readers who are simultaneously reassuring their children, hugging them while sitting in a bomb shelter. The past several weeks have been intense, stressful and heartbreaking. So much hate, too much death, victims so young, so innocent. We here in Israel find ourselves surrounded by horror, by hate and evil intentions on all borders – & within. This can cause any population to live in stress and anxiety – all of which leads to an entirely different perspective, a dramatically different reality from others living in other parts of the world, especially the US. I’m not looking for sympathy, I’m looking for perspective. Yesterday I hid under a bridge from incoming rockets while coming home from work. What was anyone else’s commute home like? Last night my kids woke up every hour of the night in fear and anticipation of a siren; they have already internalized the reaction to sirens so much so that they anticipate it, frightened by the sound of a motorcycle or ambulance. This morning, instead of saying goodbye and wishing him a great day, I sat in a bomb shelter with one of my kids and his class mates because 4 rockets were shot from Gaza to our vicinity. There were 15 6 yr olds sitting there, scared out of their minds as they listen to the eerie sirens and heard the booms; I pray that no child, not any of yours or anyone else’s, experience this. No need for compassion, just understanding and perspective. Would love to continue the conversation, dissect all that needs to be fixed, it’s part of why I live here, but I’d rather do this, and have the ability to think clearly, when I’m not anticipating the sirens. I’m not thinking of tomorrow, just want to make it through the day.  Praying for peace and quiet for our region, for all children – on both sides – won’t you join me?

Seeds of diplomacy: The Children of Israel then and now

This week’s Torah portion, the beginning of the book of Exodus (Shmot – שמות) describes the realities in Egypt as the Israelites multiply and their presence becomes of national interest, or rather disinterest. In it there is a verse that spells the beginning of the end: ויקם מלך חדש על מצרים אשר לא ידע את יוסף /
“And their rose a new king of Egypt who did not know Joseph.” Why did this new king not know Joseph? Maybe b/c there was no long term planning. Maybe because the Israelite community rest assured that Joseph was their savior from the famine of Canaan, they did nothing to nurture their collective relationship with the host government/kingdom as they grew and felt part of the larger Egyptian society. This verse is a defining moment for the Children of Israel. The seeds for a collective lobbying effort were planted thereby impacting our relations with host countries from time immemorial. Sure there are different opinions on law and practice, different interpretations to our sacred text, but these differences cannot overshadow the need for a collective agenda impacting our shared destiny. When I read this verse: “And their rose a new king of Egypt who did not know Joseph”, I think to myself – year after year: uh oh, this isn’t good… For the Children of Israel it was expected, for one way or another they were going to return to their homeland. Today, now that we are back home, we must think about diplomacy and the collective Jewish voice differently. We don’t necessarily need host countries as we much as we needed a return to Zion, however we do need to maintain positive relations with the international community, for the sake of our people living around the world, and for the sake of Zion’s presence as a nation among nations. Never underestimate the power of ignorance. Then it was a new king of Egypt that did not know Joseph, now it could be a new president of ______ that does not know the Jews. Jewish memory is saturated with lessons to learn from, all we need to do is take a peek and the answers are right under our noses. “Know from where you came and (you’ll know) where you are going…” Book of Ethics 3:1

Israel, part III – what’s it gonna be?

ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!  As if we haven’t been around this block before. Remember destruction and forced exile? Remember the rivers of Babylon? I do and I ain’t goin back. Unfortunately it’s not up to me alone; I need all of you to get along too. Continue reading

Jewish Memory and Revelations

Living a Jewish life means living within a particular framework of rituals and experience, values and memories (i.e. we were slaves in Egypt) and guidelines (Jewish Law). Passover, a microcosm of Jewish life, requires a set of guidelines in preparation of the festival including the cleaning of “Hametz”, dietary constraints and of course the ‘Seder’ accompanied by the ‘Haggadah’. Continue reading

גילוי דרך עשייה

לחיות חיים יהודים זה לחיות בתוך מסגרת מסוימת של טקסים, ניסיון, ערכים, זיכרונות (כ”עבדים היינו במצרים”) והנחיות (דרך החיים או הלכה). פסח, מיקרוקוסמוס של חיים יהודיים, המחייב סדרה של הנחיות לקראת החג שכולל ניקוי חמץ, הגבלות תזונתיות וכמובן את ה’סדר’ שמלווה על ידי ההגדה. Continue reading

A Case of Mistaken Identity II

Not quite. It turns out that many Jews regardless of their citizenship identify with the People of Israel/Jewish Peoplehood. For some the relationship is prompted by threats against Jews and the state of Israel generating a tremendous amount of talk-back and interest. The recent attack on Israeli tourists in Burgas, Bulgaria, the rise of anti-Semitism and terror attacks on Jews in France, the IOC’s denial of a minute of silence in memory of the murdered Israeli athletes in Munich 1972 –all of these events and others like them raise the ire of Jews worldwide from individuals to communities, from federations to governments. Continue reading