Erev Tu Bishvat 5770Dear Chevreh,
January 29, 2010
January 29, 2010
This Monday morning, Jeff Rosenbloom and I will step onto the tarmac of Ben Gurion Airport outside Tel Aviv. We are representing Netivot Shalom on a 4-day mission of the Masorti Foundation for Conservative Judaism in Israel. We are honored to participate in this journey, during which we will visit almost every Conservative/Masorti community in Israel. From Kibbutz Hannaton, where Netivot Shalom member Michal Hirshfield moved last Summer, to Moshav Agur, where there is a Winery considering adopting a Kosher certification through the Masorti Movement, to meeting with Minister of Knesset Tzippy Livni - this is going to be a rush of important encounters. When we return one week from Sunday, we will likely be tired and inspired.
Though the incident involving Nofrat Frenkel, the woman who was detained by Israeli police for the "crime" of wearing a Tallit in the women's section of the Kotel, only occurred after Jeff and I had already committed to joining this mission, it fueled our commitment to sharing the strength of Netivot Shalom, a passionate, egalitarian, Conservative, participatory shul with our sister Masorti communities in Israel. This isn't tourist visit, not a Jerusalem-focused trip with excursions. It is an intense sustained encounter, aimed at raising North American awareness about the Masorti communities who continue to struggle for equality in Israel.
When we speak of Israel, here in Berkeley, there is a constant fear of saying something you feel and receiving at best a withering look. But that's not the reality here at Netivot Shalom. We're proud to be in relationship with Israel, dream of and work toward more deeply just and free societies for Israelis and Palestinians just as we do for Americans and Iranians. There is, of course, real tension, but remaining silent when we can make a positive difference is not an option. But the way to get there requires attention too. Respectful listening (shmi'at ha'ozen) is definitional for a diverse community such as ours here at Netivot Shalom. Israel is a core component of our family, and we therefore have strong opinions which belong shared with love and respect. The work of V'Zot Yisrael, Netivot Shalom's Israel awareness group, demonstrates our commitments to this very aspiration.
And, to learn another unacceptable response to tension through an unrelated recent public moment: comedian Conan O'Brien, the now-former host of The Tonight Show, closed his tenure as host by saying "Please do not be cynical. I hate cynicism. It's my least-favorite quality and it doesn't lead anywhere. Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you're kind, amazing things will happen. As proof, let's make an amazing thing happen right now." Then he picked up his guitar and made some passionate, intense music with a group of friends. Nothing less should be our goal in relationship and kindness and love with Israel.
If we can steal a moment from the trip's grueling pace, Jeff and I will try to share some short observations while still there. If we can't find those moments during the trip, we will certainly come home (from our other home) with much to share. Additionally, if you'd like to follow short reports I'll be sending out to my "Tisch" email list via PDA, you can sign up by sending a blank email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
With wishes for a week of peace and music in Israel and everywhere else, full of amazing things we've helped make happen through our life as a vibrant, dream-worthy community.
Shabbat Shalom and Tu Bishvat Sameach!
Announcing ShefaJournal 5770:1 - "The Relationship Between Conservative Judaism and the Conservative Movement" http://tiny.cc/sj5770
Rabbi Menachem Creditor
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