Thursday, April 19, 2018

Shabbat-O-Gram for Yom Ha'atzmaut

The Shabbat-O-Gram is sponsored by Dana and Stuart Roth, in honor of Evan's Bar Mitzvah

Drones (peaceful ones) above Jerusalem, tonight

Shabbat Shalom! 

Happy Yom Ha'atzmaut and an early Shabbat Shalom! Mazal tov to Evan Roth, who becomes Bar Mitzvah this Shabbat morning.
As we celebrate Israel's 70th, we are overwhelmed by memories, reflections and feelings, a sensation not so different from how you feel when you get off the plane for the first time at Ben Gurion. The light is blinding, the sights, sounds and smells so powerful and multifaceted.  Beyond the cynicism and partisanship, there is something pure and thrilling about the realization of a 2,000 year old dream.  
Many American Jews are conflicted about Israel, and for good reason. It is troubling that so many feel like second class Jews at our sites and that human rights organizations like the New Israel Fund are being demonized by a government that bows down to, among others, the Haredim, 83 percent of whom don't even celebrate Independence Day
But that's the view on the ground.  This evening's ceremony on Mt Herzl began by imploring us to take the long view - to look down from the mountains.  Herzl himself did that, and fittingly for Hi Tech Nation. the show's climax was when 300 Intel drones lit up the Jerusalem sky  with Herzl's face, so that Mr. Zionism himself would get to judge his life's work from a thousand feet up.
If you feel that Israel has veered from the correct path, my advice is this: register your concern.  That is also the recommendation of Don Futterman, whose column I've pasted into the bottom of this Shabbat-O-Gram. His points are well taken. We can and should speak out.  

But in the end, as the song goes, "En li Eretz Acheret," there is no other Jewish state to fall back on.  Israel is the only Jewish state we've got.

En Li Eretz Acheret

So if you are discouraged that Israeli leaders no longer seem to care about you and question your loyalty, know that we are all stakeholders in this once-in-a-millennium project.  Israel is the Jewish magnum opus;   I own a piece of it (and have the tree certificate to prove it) and so do you.  Don't let anyone disenfranchise you.  We're all part of the conversation.  For American Jews, America is our home. But Israel is our canvas.  The former is where we live our lives.  The latter is where our lives will have mattered - or not - a millennium from now.  

The view from 30,000 feet is quite different, and an anniversary like this one requires that we look down from that height to fully recognize what a miracle Israel is, and what an opportunity it represents for the Jewish people to contribute mightily to the future of a desperate and fragile world.  That contribution is already happening. 
Here's a list of 70 reasons to admire Israel just from the past year.  The Startup Nation is great at inventing things.  So what's to say that they won't be able to invent peace?  New ideas are coming forth all the time.  No less an authority than author AB Yehoshua came up with an alternative to the two state solution in Ha'aretz today.
I asked the congregation to share reflections on what they love most about Israel. Here are a number of replies that I received. I'll keep adding to this as more replies come in. Scott Allen shared an amazing list 70 things he loves about Israel. A few examples:
58) shaking my head in amazement at the aggressiveness of Israeli drivers
59) trying to understand Israeli politics
60) eating bourekas right from the oven of small bakeries
61) the feel of brand new Israel currency
62) walking thru parts of the Old City in Jerusalem
63) checking out European fashions that are in Israel but haven't made it to the States yet
64) feeling the joy of being in a country where Jews are the majority
65) seeing how tikkun olam is practiced by so many average citizens and how important it is to them...
To each of them I say, "AMEN!" See the rest of Scott's list here.
In June, God willing, I'll be bringing a group of over 20 people from our congregation for a two-week Israel adventure.  I was just there several weeks ago and can't wait to go back.  BTW, for those in the group - your homework assignment is to devour this Israel tourism brochure - and while you are at it, maybe check out some of these these restaurants
This group will consist primarily of those who have never been to Israel or last went there many years ago.  While reservations are officially closed, there may still be space.  As of last week, our hotels and flight still had room. If you have always wanted to go and have put it off, there is no better time than now. Check out our itinerary and registration details here - and let me know if you would like to join us from June 24 - July 8.
Israel is many things for people - but most of all, it's family.  To experience that sense of family more fully, you need to go there.  But for the moment, the video below will suffice - it's gone viral, and it is spectacular

Happy 70th, Israel!  We'll continue the celebration at services this Friday night and don't miss our Mediterranean Shabbat next week!


This weekend is also Earth Day.  Given the swirling events of these turbulent times, we can't forget the increasing intensity of that turbulence is partially due to unchecked, human caused climate change.  As we reflect on the fragility of our earth, here's a noted passage about our earth, followed by a Jewish prayer:

Hashivenu Yahh elecha v'nashuva, hadesh yameinu kekedem.
Let us return, help us repent,
You Who Breathe all Life;
Breathe us, Breathe us,
Breathe us into a new path-
Help us, Help us,
Help us Turn to a new way of living
Make-new, Make -new, Our world of life intertwining -
Splendor, beauty, joy in our love for each life-form - Tamara Cohen

Here's Don Futterman's Ha'aretz article:
Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Joshua Hammerman

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