Every other year, our congregation travels to a different part of the Jewish world to meet and, if necessary, help our fellow Jews. Having traveled to Israel, Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union many times, as well as Turkey, Morocco, Spain, Argentina and Brazil, our experiences have mostly been with communities under political, demographic or economic siege. This trip was different.
An austere monolith of reinforced concrete, the 25-foot-high wall that separates parts of Israel from the West Bank conjures images of the Berlin Wall, Hadrian's Wall or even the Great Wall of China.
It is a new year, but the world and nation are still agonizing over a lot of old problems. President George W. Bush has promised that the long, hard fight against terrorism has just begun, but it is far from clear exactly what the next phase in that war will be. At home, a faltering economy and vanished government surplus promise a new budgetary day of reckoning.