Posted by Rabbi John Rosove
The Israeli journalist and scholar Bernard Avishai said in Washington, D.C. at the J Street national convention earlier this month:
For most Israelis and American Jews, the “Jewish” part of the phrase “Jewish and democratic” implies many things, which don’t necessarily work together: a Jewish majority, political representation for world Jewry, the incorporation of Jewish law into civil affairs, an historical attachment to the land of Israel,…
Ask Israelis on the street and most will just default to the idea that a Jewish majority justifies privileges for Jews, individually as well as collectively, [and that] meant that the Jewish state would give privileges exclusively to individual citizens, legally designated as Jewish owing to rabbinic decree or J positive blood.
Jewish prerogatives and democratic rights for Israeli citizens (80% Jewish/20% other within the Green Line) raise confusion about the meaning of citizenship and nationality in Israel. Avishai continues:
…the Jewish state apparatus came to recognize two forms of legal status: citizenship and nationality. Israeli citizenship entitled you to civil privileges: equality before the law in courts of law, the right to vote, etc. Jewish nationality entitled you to exclusive material privileges, privileged access to state controlled lands, housing in Jewish settlements, optional state-sponsored orthodox education, [and] national service,... Jewish nationality [as defined by traditional Jewish law - halachah] also made you subject to the ministrations of a state-sponsored national-orthodox rabbinate overseeing marriage, burial, and divorce [and therefore identity].
In other words, you are a Jewish national if you were born of a Jewish mother or you converted to Judaism. This elevated status affords rights of citizenship to any Jew living anywhere in the world under Israel’s Law of Return (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Law_of_Return).
The Law of Return, however, does not apply to Arabs even if they once lived in Jerusalem, Jaffa, Ramle, Tiberias, or Haifa. Those who remained in Israel after the 1948 War of Independence were offered Israeli citizenship.
Having said this, Israel’s parliament understood its duty to assure equal rights to all its citizens, even as it sought to further Jewish national and Hebrew culture. Consequently, Hebrew and Arabic became the official languages of state transactions and government (Arabic and English are taught in non-religious state schools) and the official religion of the Jewish state is Judaism.
My synagogue delegation met with several Members of the Knesset this month in Jerusalem, one of whom was MK Issawi Frej, the only Arab member of the six-member left-wing Zionist party Meretz. MK Frej professed his loyalty to the State of Israel, but acknowledged that Arab Israeli citizens are treated as second class citizens. Arab communities receive only a third of the money available to Israeli Jewish communities despite their paying their fair share of taxes.
The inequities are most apparent in the West Bank because those territories, taken by Israel in the 1967 Six Day War, have never been formally annexed or incorporated into the State of Israel. Indeed, it is those territories that are expected to be the basis of a Palestinian state.
In the meantime, the legal status of west bank Arabs is different than Israeli Arab citizens. West bank Arabs are subject to the Israeli Military Authority without the same democratic rights and protections enjoyed by Israeli Arab citizens living within Israel itself. Israeli confiscation of privately owned Palestinian land in the west bank is the most serious inequity. B’tzelem and Shalom Achshav, Israeli human rights organizations, estimate that fully one third of all land held by Jewish settlements in the west bank is built on Palestinian deeded land.
To add to the inequities in the law, Jewish settlers living in those same west bank territories enjoy all the benefits and privileges of Israeli citizenship.
Avishai put it well when he said:
A democratic state is, by definition, a state of its citizens... Israel must … stop discriminating against, or in favor, of individual citizens on the basis of religion or biology. It must graduate from the Law of Return to a proper immigration law based on naturalization; it must separate the rabbinate from the state apparatus; it must end public support for confessional schools …; it must privatize land and stop including exclusively Jewish institutions like the JNF in long term state planning.
…this does not mean a state of its citizens cannot have a Jewish character. It can protect the "Hebrew national atmosphere." It can also have holidays and symbols that accommodate what most citizens will celebrate.
An important argument supporting a two-state agreement is that Israel would cease as an occupier of a hostile Arab population not governed by democratic principles and protections. Israel also would be able to correct legal and economic inequities relative to the Jewish and non-Jewish populations of the state thus advancing the principles of Israel’s Declaration of Independence as both a state of the Jewish people and a democracy for all her citizens.
More to come...
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October 20, 2013 | 1:05 pm
Posted by Rabbi John Rosove
I have just returned from two weeks of meetings in Washington, D.C., Israel and the West Bank.
Immediately before embarking for Israel, I attended the national conference of J Street in Washington, D.C. J Street is a pro-Israel pro-peace political and educational organization that has for the last five years been a consistent and strong advocate for a two-states for two people’s resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It is the fasting growing political action committee in Washington and though many Jews are supporters, it is has garnered the support of Americans who understand the critical importance of a peace resolution of the conflict.
Leading Israeli and American government officials spoke to the nearly 3000 delegates (which included 900 college and university students), along with Palestinian leadership about the challenges and opportunities for a two-state solution. Included among the speakers were Vice President Joe Biden, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Rep. John Lewis, US Chief Negotiator Martin Indyk, Israeli Chief Negotiator Tzipi Livni, Likud MK Tzachbi Hanegbi, Israeli Labor opposition leader Shelly Yachimovich, members of the Knesset from the Avodah, Meretz, Likud, Yesh Atid, Shas, and Tenua parties, Israeli human rights activists, and journalists.
Then my wife and I took off for Israel to lead a mission of members of my synagogue community to meet with Israelis on the left and right, settlers, human rights activists, journalists, and members of the Knesset, as well as with Palestinian Authority officials in Ramallah and Palestinian business and community leaders in Rawabi. We did not nor would we meet with anyone from Hamas.
Our purpose was to gain deeper understanding of the current attitudes of Israelis and Palestinians towards each other, and to express our American Jewish support for a two-states for two peoples resolution of the conflict.
In the next two or three weeks I will post blog entries on many of the themes that J Street and our mission addressed including:
· Israeli and Palestinian hopes and fears
· West Bank Settlements, militant and not-so-militant settlers, and the consequences of Israeli west-bank development
· The BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanction) Movement and American Jews
· Palestinian business development in the West Bank and its role in securing a future peace agreement
· Political asylum seekers in Israel from Sudan and Eretria
· “Solidarity Sheik Jarrah” and Sara Beninga’s activism in East Jerusalem
· The struggle for Judaism in the Jewish State
· The problem in defining a “Jewish State”
· “Women of the Wall,” the ultra-orthodox and the Sharansky Compromise
All of these issues are complex. The challenge is to make sense of the ideologies, truths and strong emotions on all sides.
One overriding truth is that Israel, the Palestinians and the peoples and nations of the Middle East are inextricably intertwined with each other and that Israel’s destiny as a Jewish democratic state depends on how it resolves the conflict with the Palestinians.
I do not claim to have answers. What I will attempt to do is shine a light on some of these issues we confronted.
More to come!
September 25, 2013 | 7:23 am
Posted by Rabbi John Rosove
If God had stopped work after the third day
With Eden full of vegetables and fruits,
If oak and lilac held exclusive sway
Over a kingdom made of stems and roots,
If landscape were the genius of creation
And neither man nor serpent played a role
And God must look to wind for lamentation
And not to picture postcards of the soul,
Or would he hunger for a human crowd?
Which would a wise and just creator choose:
The green hosannas of a budding leaf
Or the strict contract between love and grief?
Linda Pastan (1932-), Modern Poems of the Bible – An Anthology, edited with an introduction by David Curzon, publ. by JPS, 1994, p. 39 – based on Genesis 1:6-13
September 22, 2013 | 9:03 am
Posted by Rabbi John Rosove
Paul Krugman and Marty Kaplan did not talk to each other last week nor coordinate their op-ed pieces in different newspapers, but they well could have.
Marty writes in “The Most Depressing Brain Finding Ever” (The Los Angeles Jewish Journal, and The Huffington Post, September 16) that recent studies show partisanship undermining reasoning skills:
“…say goodnight to the dream that education, journalism, scientific evidence, media literacy or reason can provide the tools and information that people need in order to make good decisions. It turns out that in the public realm, a lack of information isn’t the real problem. The hurdle is how our minds work, no matter how smart we think we are. We want to believe we’re rational, but reason turns out to be the ex post facto way we rationalize what our emotions already want to believe.”
http://www.jewishjournal.com/marty_kaplan/article/most_depressing_brain_finding_ever or http://www.huffingtonpost.com/marty-kaplan/most-depressing-brain-fin_b_3932273.html
Krugman picks up where Marty left off (“The Crazy Party” - New York Times op-ed, September 19):
"Republicans are coming off an election in which they failed to retake the presidency despite a weak economy, failed to retake the Senate even though far more Democratic than Republican seats were at risk, and held the House only through a combination of gerrymandering and the vagaries of districting. Democrats actually won the popular ballot for the House by 1.4 million votes. This [i.e. Republicans] is not a party that, by any conceivable standard of legitimacy, has the right to make extreme demands on the president. [My emphasis]"
We now have brain science to explain the bizarre and destructive impulses and positions taken by the Republican Party and their irrational and extremist base vis a vis The Affordable Care Act, the United States budget and the US debt ceiling.
If the researchers are correct, then the more real facts, information and logic that bonafide experts in various fields (e.g. economics, health care, science, climate change, etc.) present, the more convinced will be the extremist ideologues and their followers of whatever nonsense they started out with in the first place, and they will stick to what Stephen Colbert once called "Truthiness!"
I asked Marty what he thought was an effective game plan against the purveyors of such craziness given the Republican Congressional leadership, Fox “News” and Cable right-wing syndicated television and radio, and he said, “We have to fight stories with stories, and not let their bubbameises destroy our dreams!”
Note: Definition of bubbameises – a type of urban legend, or "tale" based in superstition or folklore; filled with unverified claims, exaggerated and/or inaccurate details – i.e. nonsense!
September 20, 2013 | 1:44 pm
Posted by Rabbi John Rosove
University of Pennsylvania Political Science Professor, Ian Lustick, touched a raw nerve in the Jewish world this week after a piece he wrote called “Two-State Illusion” appeared on the front page of the New York Times Sunday Review (September 15). He said, among other things, that the State of Israel’s lease has expired, that the Zionist project is dead (or almost dead), and that the only way forward, after a catastrophic war, is a one-state solution combining anti-Zionist extremist religious Jews, post-Zionist secular Jews, Jews from Arab countries, and secular Palestinians. It was an outrageous and defeatist piece, depressing to Zionists and lovers of Israel the world over, and embraced by few if any Jews or Palestinians.
Ian Lustick wrote:
“The disappearance of Israel as a Zionist project, through war, cultural exhaustion or demographic momentum, is…plausible…Many Israelis see the demise of the country as not just possible, but probable.”
The timing of his piece the day after Yom Kippur and days before Sukkot was upsetting and challenging because not only were his ideas unworkable, but they were contrary to everything this festival of Sukkot is about.
Much has been said about the symbolism of Sukkot. The Rashbam, Rashi’s grandson, says that Sukkot is connected to Moses warning the Israelites at the end of his life that there’s danger in feeling too secure and affluent, recalling Deuteronomy 8:11-14 - “Hishamer l’cha pen tishkach et Adonai Eloheicha…Take care lest you forget Adonai your God. When you have eaten your fill, and have built fine houses to live in…beware lest your heart grow haughty and you forget Adonai your God, who freed you from the land of Egypt, the house of bondage.”
Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, the former chief Rabbi of Great Britain, points to a verse from Jeremiah, “Zacharti l’cha chesed n’urayich ahavat clulotayich – I remember the loving-kindness of your youth, how as a bride you loved me and followed me through the wilderness, through a land not sown” (Jeremiah 2:2) (God is speaking through the mouth of the prophet to the people of Israel) as a key in understanding Sukkot. He notes that the Jeremiah verse is one of the few in the Hebrew Bible that speaks in praise not of God, but of the Jewish people’s love for God and that this is what this festival is really all about.
Yes, the sukkah represents the Jewish people’s vulnerability throughout our history, that our tents and homes are flimsy, our lives impermanent, and the future uncertain, but that in building a sukkah we exercise control over our lives and communities, and that we can take history into our own hands just as we did when Nachshon ben Aminadav led the way with Moses in crossing the Red Sea, and just as did the founding generations of Zionists and Israelis who built the state of Israel. It has taken a lot of faith for the people of the State of Israel to do what they’ve done against great odds, and that is one of the most remarkable aspects in the history of the Jewish people.
Reish Lakish, a Babylonian 3rd century sage, 1700 years ago reminds us in the Babylonian Talmud that when Moses questioned the people’s faith during the period of the wandering, God knew their hearts and reassured his prophet saying, “The [children of Israel] are believers, [and] the descendants of believers.” (Shabbat 97a) In other words, don’t worry, my servant Moses, my people have what it takes and they will not only do well but they will do what is necessary to survive and thrive as a people.
As we think about Ian Lustick’s article, the festival of Sukkot reminds us on the one hand that, yes, we’ve always been historically insecure, but also that this is our season lismoach, to rejoice, in spite of whatever circumstances we have faced in our history. Indeed, another name for this festival of Sukkot is Z’man Simchateinu – the Season of our Rejoicing.
We Jews are experts at insecurity, but we’ve never lost faith because we are "believers and descendents of believers.”
Shabbat shalom and chag Sukkot sameach!
September 16, 2013 | 9:17 am
Posted by Rabbi John Rosove
I was stunned by Ian Lustick’s front page above-the-fold NY Times Sunday Review (September 15) article of 2339 words (long by most standards) with huge graphics not only because of the immense space The NY Times gave to a very small minority position within any community, but also because of its timing – the day after Yom Kippur and in the middle of serious negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians to find a two-state solution. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/15/opinion/sunday/two-state-illusion.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
I knew Ian Lustick when we were students together at UC Berkeley in 1970-71. We were both part of a left-wing Zionist group on campus that published a newspaper called “The Jewish Radical.” Ian was a brilliant and charismatic graduate student in Political Science, as I recall, and he was a strong Zionist at that time.
What happened? I honestly do not know as we were only acquaintances and I have had no contact with him since. But, in reading his article, he has clearly changed and given up on the most extraordinary phenomenon in modern Jewish history, the restoration of the Jewish people in the historic homeland, the establishment of a Jewish state for the first time in 2000 years, and the dreams of Israel’s founders as expressed in Israel’s Declaration of Independence.
Ian’s analysis of the growth and number of Jewish settlements in the West Bank is not wrong. As he says, the United States should have put pressure on Israel to stop this long ago when a two-state solution would have come more easily.
It did not happen, but that does not mean that all is lost, and Ian’s conclusion that a two-state solution is an illusion is defeatism in the extreme especially at a time when the United States is engaged actively in negotiations that represent the only chance there is to preserve Israel as a democracy and the national homeland of the Jewish people.
I am including, by permission, a "Letter to the Editor" penned by my friend and teacher, Rabbi Richard Levy, past president of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, who has been involved in the peace movement reaching back to the days of “Breira,” (the first American Jewish organization calling for a two-state solution in the early 1970s) and who is now an important voice amongst J Street Rabbis. Richard shines a strong light on the absurdity of Ian’s prescription for a one-state solution. I hope The NY Times Letters page publishes Richard's piece. It should!
TO THE EDITOR:
Seldom have I read a crueler, more heartless prescription for the Israeli-Palestinian struggle than Ian Lustick's condemnation of Israelis and Palestinians to enduring the horrible trials of the Irish under Great Britain and South African blacks under apartheid. If the two-state solution is illusory, what are we to make of Mr. Lustick's fantasy that if Israelis and Palestinians are forced to endure mutual violence long enough in a single state that "anti-nationalist Orthodox Jews might find common cause with Muslim traditionalists," bridging a huge abyss not only of political but religious animosity, and "Israelis whose families came from Arab countries might find new reasons to think of themselves not as 'Eastern', but as Arab"--when the way Jews were treated in those countries led them to be among the Israelis most hostile toward Arabs? Furthermore, secular Palestinians in Israel and the West Bank are already finding allies among secular (and liberal religious)
Israelis--allies for a two-state solution. And if diplomacy has to give way to decades more of "blood and magic"--what are we to make of the successful diplomacy ending the strife in Northern Ireland? Why should the Israelis and Palestinians be denied the opportunity to attempt diplomacy once more in the quest for two states?
Perhaps the answer to these questions lies in Mr. Lustick's comments about "post-Zionist" and "statist Zionism." For him, Zionism would appear to be the main culprit, for which a two-state solution is but a scapegoat. For a two-state solution would preserve a Zionist state, run democratically by a Jewish majority--and Mr. Lustick wants to eliminate that possibility. Not only to eliminate it, but to crucify it on a one-state platform of "ruthless oppression, mass mobilization, riots, brutality, terror, Jewish and Arab emigration and rising tides of international condemnation of Israel," all of which would result in the withdrawal of American support.
It is easy to condemn a policy of supporting two states if the only state that currently exists is the one a person wishes to be destroyed. Mr. Lustick's piece was well titled. It is an illusion to think he opposes a two state solution--it is the Zionist state that he opposes, and sets out a blueprint to destroy.
Rabbi Richard N. Levy
Hebrew Union College, Los Angeles
September 15, 2013 | 1:55 pm
Posted by Rabbi John Rosove
I chose not to comment on the Syrian atrocity during the Ten Days of Repentance because my attentions were primarily elsewhere, on the greater themes of the High Holidays and with my congregation. However, I have been thinking about it, and the following are some of those thoughts:
For me the greater issue, beyond the tragedy in Syria itself, is on what moral responsibility the United States bears as the only world superpower. Though the UN does some important work in international relief (i.e. in Jordan today), the Security Council is a dysfunctional body because it demands 100% agreement to do anything, a demagogic principle if ever there was one. That being the case, moral responsibility for such tragedies passes to the United States.
It is distressing that this Syrian crisis is the only world tragedy that seems to garner American interest, given other catastrophes in Darfur, the Congo and Burma. Of course, this is nothing new. American bombers could have destroyed the train tracks leading to Bergen Belsen in WWII, but did not. The US was absent during the genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia, after chemical weapons use on civilians by Sadaam Hussein in the first Gulf War, and after Hafez Al Assad’s murder of 20,000 civilians in Hama in the 1980s.
I understand the quagmire into which the United States would step if it becomes the world’s policeman, and that gives me pause, but it is painful as a Jew to stand by idly while others bleed (Leviticus 19:16) especially in the wake of our people’s experience in the Shoah when no one came to our people's aid. Given these two opposing impulses, I stand on the side of active American engagement whenever and where ever a serious humanitarian crisis, such as those I listed above, occurs.
I understand American hesitancy to get involved in Syria, because there is no good-guy in the Syrian opposition, and the next dictator is likely to be just as bad as the current one. However, President Obama's "red-line" is a critical one to enforce every time it is crossed, and it needs enforcing now.
Another worry I have is concerning the perceived loss of American credibility relative to the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. There are a number of causes behind the weaker perception of America today including the serious damage done by the Bush Administration’s wrong-headed and tragic Iraqi War adventure, current congressional timidity and partisanship, and misjudgments by President Obama. For the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations to succeed with a two-state solution resulting, the United States must be engaged actively and, I believe, with muscle. The weaker America appears, the worse that is for the future of a secure democratic and Jewish State of Israel.
Finally, though I understand the international power play in which President Putin is engaged, I do not accept the view that President Obama has somehow sunk the American ship. If the Russian-American agreement on Syrian chemical weapons succeeds in keeping Assad from ever using them again, it is a win-win-win for the United States, Russia, and any future population that could be similarly attacked.
Before Yom Kippur, the Central Conference of American Rabbis (representing 2500 Reform Rabbis world-wide) made the following statement on Syria, with which I agree:
The Central Conference of American Rabbis condemns the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons to kill more than 1400 persons, including some 400 children, as a violation of international law and a crime against humanity. As Jews, we are well acquainted with a tyrannical regime’s use of lethal gas to commit mass murder and of the failure of democratic governments to intervene.
The CCAR applauds the President’s decision to respond to the Syrian authorities’ illegal and morally reprehensible conduct and to seek the complete, prompt, and verifiable removal of chemical weapons from Syria by means of diplomacy, if possible, before resorting to the use of military force.
We reaffirm the principle that the use of force should be undertaken with utmost reluctance, only when reasonable alternatives have been exhausted or prove unavailable.
We call on other governments throughout the world to join the effort to ensure that Syria does not commit another such atrocity.
We believe that effective action regarding the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons is essential to deter the use of weapons of mass destruction by others and reinforce the credibility of U.S. policy concerning such weapons.
We support the firm and unequivocal determination of the President and Congress to prevent Iran from developing or obtaining nuclear weapons.
We express our deep concern for the State of Israel and its citizens, who have been threatened with retaliation in the event of American military action, and reaffirm the CCAR’s steadfast support for Israel’s right to defend its citizens from all who seek to harm them.
We yearn for the arrival of “the days to come” that Isaiah foresaw, when nations “will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks: Nation shall not take up sword against nation; they shall never again know war.”
We pray that the Jewish New Year, recently begun, will see the dawning of peace for the entire human family.
September 11, 2013 | 10:49 am
Posted by Rabbi John Rosove
Forty years ago on Yom Kippur I was studying as a first-year rabbinic student in Jerusalem. I will never forget that day as long as I live.
I left my student dorm near the President’s House in Rehavia at 5:45 AM that morning, and walked the quiet streets to the Kotel to pray. When I reached the bottom of the then undeveloped valley between the King David Hotel and Jaffa Gate, three US-made Phantom jets flew in formation going south over the city of Jerusalem.
I was stunned and wondered; ‘On Yom Kippur – the holiest day of the year over the holy city!? Where are they going and why?’
Eight hours later, just before 2 PM, the air raid sirens sounded throughout the country. I turned on a small transistor radio to learn on the BBC that 1300 Syrian tanks had crossed into Israel over the Golan Heights and that the Egyptian army had crossed the Suez Canal and breached the Bar Lev Line in a coordinated surprise attack on the Jewish people's holiest day of the year.
Israeli radio called up all units. Within 24 hours Israeli soldiers were in place and the fighting was intense. The civil reserve took up residence on the ground floor of my dorm in the event that Jerusalem would come under attack.
Classes ceased, and I worked throughout the war in one of Jerusalem’s two large bakeries producing 75,000 loaves of bread nightly. The only workers there were Jews over the age of 55 and foreign students. Young Israelis had been called up and Arabs were frightened to come in.
Each night I walked through blackened streets to a pick-up point, and worked the 8-10 hour shift until 6 AM.
Israeli casualties were high. By the end of the three-week war Israel had suffered 2656 dead and 9000 injured, equivalent to 230,000 Americans.
Despite Israel’s heavy losses and the catastrophe of the war itself, the Yom Kippur War is considered the greatest of all Israeli military victories. In three weeks Israel pierced through Egyptian lines, built a bridge across the Suez Canal, surrounded the Egyptian 3rd Army, and threatened Cairo.
In the north, Israel pushed the Syrian army back into its own territory, and threatened Damascus.
Secretary of State Henry Kissinger understood that hope for a future peace would require preserving a measure of Arab pride. Consequently, the United States forced a cease-fire permitting Egyptian President Anwar Sadat to claim victory. Five years later he traveled to Jerusalem eventually resulting in the Camp David Accords.
Historian and Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren spoke to American rabbis just before Rosh Hashanah this year and reflected on the Yom Kippur War’s 40th anniversary. He described four stages in the war against Israel.
The first stage constituted wars waged by Arab armies (1948, 1956, 1967, 1973).
The second stage was a war of terrorism that began soon after 1967. Prosecuted by Arab fedayin guerillas and Palestinian terrorists it includes the War of Attrition (1968-1971), the murder of eleven Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics (1972), the murder of children in Maalot (1974), ongoing attacks on the northern town of Kiryat Shemona, two Intifadas, multiple suicide bombings, and rocket attacks from Lebanon and Gaza on civilian communities in Israel.
The third stage was the “internationalization of the conflict” in the United Nations using diplomacy with the intention to delegitimize the State of Israel.
Ambassador Oren says that we are now in the fourth stage - bi-lateral negotiations intended to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in a two-state agreement.
So much history has transpired during these past forty years. Israel is a very different place than it was then, as is the Middle East and the world as a whole.
This coming October 6, I will be once again in Jerusalem, and I expect I will ruminate on those three phantom jets flying over Jerusalem on that quiet Yom Kippur morning forty years ago and upon the piercing scream of the sirens that shattered the holiest day of the year and the hearts of Israelis.
I am bringing 23 members of my synagogue community with me to lend our support to the people of the State of Israel, and to meet with Israelis from all political points of view inside the Green Line and living in the West Bank to better understand their thinking and current state-of-mind, and we will meet with Palestinian leaders in Ramallah and Rawabi to learn more about who they are, what has been their experience under occupation, and what are their needs and dreams.
“Sha-alu shalom Yerushalayim – Pray for Jerusalem’s weal!” (Ps. 122:6 – The Book of Psalms, translated by Robert Alter)
G’mar chatimah tovah – May you be sealed in the Book of Life.