Sunday, January 11, 2009

As we prepare to leave JFK

I am writing this post from the departure lounge at JFK a few hours before we leave. Why are we going? Over Shabbat as people came over to say good bye and wish me a safe trip, there was a palpable sense that I am going to Israel to represent our community. Our community may be deeply divided on the wisdom and conduct of the war, but I sensed a community unified in its sense that the people of Israel are our family. The soldiers in Gaza are our family. Included among the soldiers are children I knew as bnai mitzvah and the grandchildren and cousins of congregants with family members who have made aliyah, and the children of my generation of friends in Israel. There is no degree of separation. And I also sense that this trip, as symbolic as it may be, will matter to my colleagues in Israel. Their lives have been turned upside down and they have no choice but to endure. We in America, we Jews who have choices, need to make the decision, in whatever numbers, to interrupt our lives and make our identification with Israel a bit more concrete during times of conflict. A colleague in Jerusalem ended an e-mail posting on a rabbinic listserv with the following tonight: “. . . happily anticipating the Masorti Solidarity Mission arriving tomorrow in Jerusalem, including our good colleagues Lenny Gordon and Jeremy Wiederhorn, _tavo `aleihem berakha.” If even a handful of Israelis share that feeling, then our visit will have meaning.

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