DAY 797: A Litmus Test for…the Jewish People

September 5, 2014
By bethmordecai
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DAY 797: A Litmus Test for…the Jewish People

This is the third of a three part journal series previewing this Sunday’s Israeli-Palestinian speaker event “One Land, Two Worlds, One Painful Hope”

Dear Hevreh,

The Jewish people have been through a lot in over 4000 years of our history. Expulstions, crusades, the Holocaust, you name it and it seems the Jewish people have survived it. So to say that a dialogue between a Palestinian and an Israeli is a “litmus test” for the Jewish people is rather facetious. If all of Jewish life is like an incredible Impressionist painting, then Sunday’s event would be a single dot from the artist’s brush.

That being said, anyone turning on the news today knows that the conversation in our sanctuary on Sunday is relevant to the important question of how Jews relate to the State of Israel. The current war may have united many (though not all) of our voices for a moment, but there are still strong divisions within the Jewish community along generational, religious, and political lines, and we don’t do ourselves any favors when we dramatize some of our most incendiary viewpoints to the point that we accept them as gospel. For instance, on the “right” one of these views is that all Palestinians want the Jews to go away (or killed) and on the “left” one of these views is that all settlers are occupiers on a foreign land and as such should also go away.

If Sunday is any kind of “litmus test” then, it’s to see if we can transcend these stultifying views and enter into an (albeit) more complex world of nuance, a world that is at the heart of what it means to be a Conservative Jew. Not all Palestinians are enemies, not all settlers are enemies, and perhaps through hearing the personal stories of how a Palestinian and Israeli settler are able to transcend those labels for themselves, we can learn how to do it for ourselves.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Ari Saks


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