As I think about the state of Israel and the state of Zionism today, I am reminded of that old joke about the 3 elderly folks who are sitting on the beach talking. One says: “Oy.” The other says “Oy vey.” The third says: “Oy vey iz mir.” Finally, they get fatigued from the conversation and agree spontaneously: “Enough talking about the children!”
These days, the punch line could be: “Enough talking about Israel.” Most conversations about Israel today are about Israel’s tsuris. (troubles). Yes, Israel has plenty of troubles. There is anti-Zionism on the left and on the right. There is anti-Semitism on the left and on the right. There is an occupation of the Palestinian people that has been going on now for over 50 years. There is a military build-up of those who would destroy Israel in lands that border Israel: in Gaza, in Lebanon and in Syria. There are those in America who seem to equate Israel with ‘the devil himself.’ And there are those in America who see Israel as the very vehicle to Heaven.
Against this backdrop, life in Israel is bustling and thriving. The foodie scene is very big. By all means, do see the movie In Search of Israeli Cuisine. Medical research in Israel has led to miracles in cancer treatment and calls that an actual cure for cancer is in reach within the halls of the Technion and Ben Gurion University. Israeli start-up companies have created methods to purify and re-use water that have recently been used now in California. Paraplegics have stood and walked once more because of the Israeli invention of a robotic exoskeleton machine.
There is a lot of diversity of opinion about who Israel is and what Israel should be. Remarkably, there is no more diversity of opinion on the subject of Israel than there is within Israel itself. Just take a look at the Knesset on any given day.
Temple Beth Tikvah is a synagogue where diversity of opinion should flourish. I cherish all opinions and viewpoints about Israel. At the same time, I cherish our common ground, which is our love of Israel, our attachment to Israel and our desire to stay informed and engaged.
To that end, I encourage you to join us this month of January in an exploration of Israel and the Jewish Values that undergird this Jewish state of ours. We meet in the sanctuary from 12-2pm on Wednesdays in January. Be a part of the conversation.