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W wo ov to fo o! O g to wtng tt to t to cn fon on o W st: www.jtnws.nt/n.pp?/tts_gns.tThe deadliNe FOr The NexT iSSue iS may 18
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friday, may 14, 2010
Bet Alef MeditativeSynagogue
As my irst name suggests, I wasborn in France. Te France I grew up inofered only one Jewish denomination,one orm o practicing Judaism: Ortho-doxy. For French Jews like my parents,practicing Judaism was virtually an all-or-nothing endeavor. My parents wereuncomortable — to say the least — withmost Jewish Orthodox practices. As Jewsrmly grounded in modern French sec-ular culture, they restricted their Jewishcelebrations to Passover and Yom Kippur,the purpose o which was to get together with extended amily twice a year. As a good rebellious teenager, Idecided to embrace Orthodox Judaism,to the utter dismay o my entire amily.I practiced modern Orthodoxy throughmy teens and into my 20s both in Franceand, later, in Israel, where I emigratedater graduating rom high school. JewishOrthodoxy was not only all I had everknown, it was all I ever knew existed. You can imagine my surprise then, when, having moved to the U.S. in my late20s, I discovered numerous denominationsavailable to American Jews. I was stunned!I ound mysel wondering, “How wouldJewish lie have been diferent or my par-ents — or French Jews in general? Wouldthey have ound it easier to attend syna-gogue had such diversity been available inmy youth?”It soon became apparent, however,that the pluralism I had ound so reresh-ing does not necessarily oster harmony.Many conversations taught me that thenorm o existing discourse within the American Jewish community is that o discord. Members o the more “liberal”denominations disparage the more tra-ditional ones, while the latter criticize thepractices — or lack thereo, in their opin-ion — o the ormer. Tose in the liberalcamp are accused o being accomplicesto the growing number o intermarriages— raising the specter o Jewish disappear-ance — while those in the Orthodox campare decried as being anachronistically patriarchal and stuck in an irrelevant iso-lationist past — raising the same specter.Te list o grievances continues romall sides,
. Ultimately, every-one believes his or her particular methodo practicing Judaism is the correct andauthentic way. Most — in the name o political correctness — would not pub-licly admit as much; nevertheless, ourJewish Home is deeply divided. Where might this divisiveness lead us?Te almud ofers us one particularly dark possibility: “Why… was the second emple— wherein the society was involved inorah, Commandments and acts o kind-ness — destroyed? Because gratuitoushatred was rampant in society.” (Yoma
9b) We have yet to reach this level o conten-tion. Tankully, even amid great inter-nal rumblings, the House o Jacob is noton the brink o collapse. We might be dis-pleased or uncomortable with the waysothers choose to practice Judaism, butthat is a ar cry rom hatred. Perhaps inour generation we have the opportunity to ofer an alternative ending to that o thealmud’s; we can seed a diferent visionor the unolding o the Jewish story, i weheed a proound teaching gleaned romthis week’s orah portion:
Sinai, in the wildernesso Sinai, “the Eternal spoke to Moses…saying: ‘ake a census o the wholeIsraelite community…’” (Num. 1:1–2)Tere, through the census, every tribe isaccounted or, each one given a place inthe composition o the community as it isabout to march through the wilderness.Te metaphor o the wilderness, itsel, ismost telling. Here is a space welcoming o all and belonging to no one. In this space we are able to receive orah, or metaphori-cally speaking, to awaken to the most un-damental teachings. Tis is the spiritualspace all o us always travel through. Temarching tribes o our ancestors couldrepresent, in our days, both the multipledenominations o modern Judaism, andthose o us non-denominational Jews; all wandering through the
together.I we are to pay attention to this aspecto this week’s teaching, not only do all o us, aliated or not, need to be countedas part o the “Israelite community,” butall o us need the unique space we take upin the arrangement o the tribes — in thebreadth o Judaism — to be recognizedand armed by all others, as we marchthrough the
as one people.rouble begins when we believe weown Te ruth. No one does. Rather, eacho our denominations expresses a wholebut partial truth. By “whole” I mean that,deeply grounded in our convictions,steeped in our unique orm o practicesand worldview, we hold an absolutely valid and necessary orm o Jewishexpression — a whole truth. But our truthis also part o a greater whole, the whole we call Judaism. And thereore, it is a par-tial truth on the spectrum o truths thatmake up Judaism. Tis is why I believe allthe denominations are needed.Te congregation I personally gravi-tated toward, and o which I now lead, isBet Ale Meditative Synagogue. Toughounded by a Reorm rabbi — Rabbi edFalcon — Bet Ale is an independent con-gregation. As a Jew, I am blessed withbeing able to ind a community thatmatches my current spiritual orienta-tion and preerence. Not only that, but asan evolving human being, I am also wellaware that diferent times in my lie may call me to diferent orms o practice, and,thereore, to diferent denominations.In our orah portion, the Hebrew wordsusually translated as “take a census,” liter-ally mean: “lit the head.” By accountingor the entire range o denominations, by counting us all as integral whole-partso the modern Israelite community, werestore the pride and sense o belonging o all Jews, and allow all to hold their headsup high. As we wander through the wilder-ness, each other’s presence enhances theremarkable experience o being Jewish.May we be able to nd within our heartsthe benevolent love that will unite ourpeople in the essential acceptance o ourdiferences, here in America, and mostcritically in our time, in the land o Israel.
e Ps un
Just as in the Torah, to each his own place
rabbi’s turnDefinition of insanity
The editorial by Rainer WaldmanAdkins and Teri Citterman (“Sharing Jeru-salem: The key to peace?” April 30) sup-portive o a “two-state solution” andBarack Obama’s public criticism o Jewishconstruction in Jerusalem reminds meo Albert Einstein’s denition o insanity:“Doing the same thing over and over againand expecting dierent results.”The ailed Oslo process and past Israeliconcessions have not resulted in Palestinianabrogation o violence to obtain its polit-ical goals. Let’s look at the acts. First, todate the Palestinian National Covenant hasnot explicitly omitted the language deny-ing Israel’s right to exist. Ocial Palestin-ian pronouncements continue to assert thatthe Jews have no historic claim to Jerusa-lem and no Jewish Temple ever stood onwhat they call the “Haram-al-Shari” — TheTemple Mount. Second, all Israeli territo-rial withdrawals over the past decade havebeen reciprocated not with compromise byArabs but with increased violence. Israel’sunilateral withdrawal rom Lebanon in May2000 was met with an emboldened Hez-bollah, kidnappings o Israeli soldiers, andthe bloody second
. Moreover, thenumber o rockets red at Israel rom Gazamore than tripled ater Israel’s unilateralwithdrawal rom the Gaza Strip in August2005 — with nearly 6,000 rockets andmortars were launched between August o 2005 and the January 2009 Gaza war.In light o these undisputed acts,Adkins and Citterman now suggest thata cessation o building in Jewish neigh-borhoods in Jerusalem will lead to peaceand a two-state solution — notwithstand-ing the act that all prior concessions andeorts made by Israel have been met withPalestinian violence. This is insanity. Jewish blood should not have beenshed in vain, and over 20 centuries o prayers to return to Jerusalem dismissed,because o the political let’s severe cogni-tive dissonance. As simply stated by GoldaMeir, “We will have peace with the Arabswhen they love their children more thanthey hate us.”
Steven A. HemmatSeattle
Diversity of opinion
Thank you or publishing Rabbi AnsonLaytner’s essay on dialogue between andamong Jews with diering viewpointsregarding Israel and Palestine (“We needto talk,” April 16). It amazes me, as a com-mitted Jew, just how obvious our dislikeo Arabs/Palestinians is when our ancientright to
Israel is asserted. In act,some Jews say there are no Palestiniansand no Palestine, even.I don’t understand how a gap this bigcould develop rom a people known,admired and envied or their history o major intellectual accomplishments,achievements and survival against theodds. That’s our story. Why are Jews split-ting and actionalized, earul o stating toeach other diering opinions on Israel’spolitical policies?I applaud the
or running arti-cles rom a wide range o rabbinic andintellectual opinions in the Seattle com-munity. Americans live in a democracy.As Jews and Americans, upholding those“inalienable rights” and having the right toexpress dierent opinions are essential tomaintaining that democratic standard. As Jews, we must also try to respect and careor one another — especially in times o divisiveness. Many rabbinic quotes can becited, at the very least the great Rabbi Hil-lel’s, ”I I am not or mysel, who will be orme? I I am not or others, what am I? Andi not now, when?”That question o the ages remains as rel-evant today as ever. We must strive to nd amiddle ground. That is what I will pray or.
Te report on the state o the day schools (April 30) noted the JewishFederation o Greater Seattle hasgiven nearly $450,000 to each o the day schools. Tat gure was thetotal amount o money allocated toschools and area education organi-zations in the past year, plus addi-tional emergency grants.
regrets the error.