Today is August 20, 2019 -
Back in August I shared the exciting news that our niece from Israel, Hadas, was engaged to a young man from Albany whom she met at a Federation event. I just returned from dancing at their wedding in Israel.
Among the 300 wedding guests were observant and non-observant Jews, Yemenite and Ashkenazi Jews, Israeli and Palestinian Arabs, current and former Albanians. The wedding was officiated by Hadas’ Yemenite rabbi. The food was prepared under the supervision of the rabbinate. Everything was beautiful and occurred without incident.
Why am I writing “without incident”? Most American Jews have little access to the daily lives of Israelis. We are, therefore, limited to the news considered sensational enough to publish. We hear about the lack of pluralism, the Arab hardships, the prejudice, the challenges with the orthodox communities, the terrorism, and the negativity of our young adults. We then question why the Israeli government is not addressing these issues and why the Israeli citizens are not electing officials who will address them.
I am not suggesting that these challenges are not real. They are; but for the average Israeli on the street, they are not part of the daily living and are not as important as security concerns, especially during elections.
I tried engaging people in some of the concerns expressed by American Jews. “What are your thoughts on the Kotel situation?” Repeatedly I heard, “What Kotel situation?” Reform and conservative Jews in Israel, as well as many living in Jerusalem, understand the situation. Others around the country—not so much.
I have titled this essay series “Perspective.” I do not agree that American Jews and Israeli Jews have a communication issue. I strongly believe that we have a perspective issue. Israeli Jews think security first. In America, we have had a small taste of terrorism over the last few years. Israelis have been living with it since their beginning. They do not appreciate Americans questioning their security fences, borders, or checkpoints.
Where does that leave us? I am a Zionist. I strongly believe in the safe and secure homeland for the Jewish people. We, as affluent American Jews, have the responsibility to ensure the safe passage of every endangered Jew to our homeland and then to provide for their education and resettlement. To me, we have this obligation regardless of what we think of the current government of Israel or the voting record of its citizens.
On a final note, I may have been the second oldest person on the full El Al flight home to Boston. The plane was packed with excited Birthright participants planning reunions and how to return for their next visit.