When I was in 12th grade at L.A. Hebrew High School, our Chumash teacher, Eliezer Slomovic, interrupted a lesson to share with us a little of his anger. He had davened on the previous Shabbat in a friend’s shul — I think to attend a bar mitzvah. Eliezer, as we called him, always got to shul on time and apparently the gabbai wanted to honor him with an aliyah. He came up to our teacher and asked, “Do you keep kosher?”
As he told us this, Eliezer, a learned and humble man, looked down and slowly shook his head in wonder and sorrow. The room full of 16- and 17-year-olds perked up. We stopped passing notes or flirting with the boy across the room. We sensed that Eliezer was about to impart an important life lesson.
While news of the Geneva accords hit the headlines, a group of Palestinians and Israelis were trying to make a different kind of peace -- with the help of Buddhists in southern France.
Thich Nhat Hanh -- Vietnamese Zen master, poet and Nobel Peace Prize nominee -- has been inviting groups of Palestinians and Israelis to his practice center, Plum Village, in an effort to show them that Buddhist meditation can lead to inner peace as well as nonviolence between nations. The trips are largely underwritten by an American Jewish businessman.
Nhat Hanh preaches nothing less than personal transformation as the road to peace.
As Israel enters its second 50 years, one sees elegant black faces almost everywhere in the country: in shopping malls and universities, in the army and in playgrounds.
It is 8:15 a.m. in the first-grade classroom in Jerusalem's Adam School. Ice cream-colored walls surround a large room decorated with silk cloths, woven rugs, stones, seashells, driftwood, sheaves of wheat, plants and hand-sewn dolls and animals. The blackboard is covered with a large, multicolored chalk-drawn tree with a bird's nest in its branches. A small, cozy room off the main classroom, painted in lavender and white, contains rugs, mattresses covered with Indian spreads, a doll cradle and a basket of small hand-stitched beanbags. The children sit quietly at their tables while their teacher, Eyal Bloch, moves from pupil to pupil, slowly shaking hands and greeting each one with a smile, pausing at times to exchange some brief words.
It's a hot summer day and 16 teen-agers are walking through YadVashem in Jerusalem with a handful of adults. The scene is acommonplace one until you look a little closer and listen morecarefully. Half of the group is speaking softly in Arabic amongthemselves and they come from villages with names like Julis and KfarYassif. The Arab and Druze teens in the group, as well as the Jewishones, are wearing long white T-shirts displaying the name of theGhetto Fighters' House and the word "guide" printed in large blockletters across the back.
Sarra Levine and Rochelle Robins began sharing their dreams three years ago, during a long car ride from the Michigan Women's MusicFestival to Philadelphia.
"I always knew I wanted to start a politically minded organization that was Jewish and focused on women," Robins says. "I also wanted to create the school I sought but couldn't find."