Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Something Serious to take our minds OFF the snow

If you are not already a follower of URJ's blog, I highly recommend you become one. This is the SECOND of my own blogs in which I share with you something I have read there.

As individuals and as a congregation, we have not yet given ourselves the opportunity to discuss last month's events at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, during which, a "liberal" (read -- "non-Orthodox") Jewish woman was arrested for daring to put on a tallit during a women's minyan for Rosh Chodesh (a women's text study and worship service in connection with the celebration of the New Moon -- which has become a "women's holiday" in Jewish tradition for obviuous reasons not worth delving into here)), and the group itself was harrassed and broken up for defying the decorum of that sacred place that has become the Western Wall.

Part of the reason we have not yet entered into this discussion is traceable both to issues of weather and opportunity. But an even deeper truth is that this is a very long and complex issue -- when Loren and I were in Israel for our honeymoon, Women of the Wall already had a long history of attempting to pray as liberal Jewish women with more than just token spirituality, and was even then in the headlines for their efforts, and the seemingly draconian response to them by Israeli police and officials.

However, this issue goes to the core of SEVERAL key issues of our own Jewish identity, both uniquely as American Reform Jews (whether we support Israel, or Women of the Wall, or both, or neither), and collectively as part of "K'lal Yisrael" -- the totality of the Jewish people -- including those who too often seek to read us out, and with whom, let's be honest, we generally try to avoid being linked. We NEED to discuss this issue, both as a litmus test for who we are as American Reform Jews who support and love the State of Israel, and in order to try to become of the solution.

I am HONORED to share with you, from the URJ Blog, the thoughts on this subject of Rabbi Marc Rosenstein. I had the privilege of studying with Marc when I was in 9th grade (before he was ordained as a Rabbi) and Confirmation class (we were his first students as a Rabbi, and he was our congregation's first assistant Rabbi -- just to give you an idea, Rabbi David Ellenson, now the Rosh Yeshivah (President) of HUC-JIR, our seminary, was our second!), and after our return from our Confirmation trip to Israel, which he led. He was a great teacher then, even as a student and brand new Rabbi. He has since made aliyah, has lived in Israel with his family for over 25years, and has made a name for himself as a Jewish Educator and thinker.

His thoughts on the issue are hardly "inside the box" on this subject, which, if anything, makes them more important to consider. Even if you come to this issue late, and only through this blog, I hope it will be influential on you, and encourage you to learn more and think more about the issues raised by Women of the Wall and by Rabbi Rosenstein's piece.

You can find his blog by cutting and pasting this url into your web browser:

And I truly hope THIS entry engenders some thoughtful debate and discussion, here, and on the URJ site.

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