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Crisis in Israel

02/02/2023 12:53:23 PM


Rabbi Scott Hausman -Weiss

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“The North American Jewish community has steadfastly come to the aid of Israel at moments of crisis. Israel belongs, first of all, to its citizens, and they have the final word. But Israel also matters to the entire Jewish people. When an Israeli government strays beyond what your commitments to liberal democracy can abide, you have both the right and the responsibility to speak up.” - An open letter to Israel’s friends in North America by Matti Friedman, Yossi Klein Halevi, and Daniel Gordis.

There is this Hebrew term, k’ilu, which means, “as if” that drives so much of the Jewish imagination. Not in that irreverent, teenage sort of retort, but in a vastly imaginative manner by which, for example, we teach that on Passover, every human being should see themselves k’ilu, As If, they came forth out of Egypt.  Much of Jewish ritual is an homage to this notion – we pray k’ilu we are in the land of Israel, staying connected to its rhythms, celebrations, and challenges.  In other words, we are to care deeply about the State of Israel, even though we spend most of our lives living elsewhere. 

Tu B’shvat, the 15th of the month of Shevat, is this Sunday night/Monday and here too, we are to offer prayers over the conclusion of winter and the rebirth of spring…in Israel.  Jewish ritual invites us to adopt Israeli geography and identity, if but for an hour, a day, or, a week. 

Today, I implore you to do this – not for Tu B’shvat (although I’d love to welcome you this Friday evening for our Tu B’shvat Shabbat Seder/Service), but to read this article, and do a little research into the political and judicial upheavals that are and could literally reshape the land of our people.  Please read this article, written by three scholars, all of whom I have studied with, read, and listened to for decades, which lays out the crisis Israel is currently facing – not at all from without but very much from within.  I trust these intellectuals and I encourage you to do the same – not to have to accept every word they say as absolute, but to accept as absolute that this is an existential moment of the State of Israel we cannot ignore. 

As we look to the Tikvah, the hope that we pray springs eternal in the land of Israel and for the Jewish people, please do your part in at least staying abreast of what is going on.  As our tradition teaches, “If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, may my right hand wither.” (Psalm 137:5)

I do hope to see you tomorrow night for To Be Shabbat – an invigorating and creative approach to Shabbat and Tu B’shvat.

Thu, May 23 2024 15 Iyyar 5784