Monthly Archives: July 2014

Praying for Peace Under Exploding Missiles–by Ayala Emmett

Praying for Peace Under Exploding Missiles
Ayala Emmett

Two Lemons and an Orange
On Thursday July 10, I skype with my brother in Israel and he tells me about his day. In the morning he went to the produce store where he has been buying fruit and vegetables. The owner was not there but his son, a young man in his late teens, was in charge. The radio was blaring the latest news, “President Barak Obama is calling on both sides, Israelis and Palestinians, to show restraint.”

From thousands of miles away, in Kiryat Motzkin a town 15 kilometers from Haifa, the young man was raising a fist at the American president. Ignoring the customers, he started yelling and blasting President Obama. read more

David Ben-Gurion on Herzl, Zionism and Zion–by Matia Kam

David Ben-Gurion on Herzl, Zionism and Zion

Matia Kam

“News swept through the town: Messiah has arrived

Theodor Ze'ev Herzl
Theodor Ze’ev Herzl

David Ben-Gurion (1886-1973) did not meet, nor did he get to see Benjamin Ze’ev Theodore Herzl (1860-1904). But that image of Herzl as the messiah, was etched in Ben-Gurion’s memory. It was Herzl who brought to the town of Plonsk, where Ben Gurion grew up, the Zionist message. Eight years later, Herzl died unexpectedly and Ben-Gurion wrote of the shock at his untimely death, which dashed so many Jewish hopes. “In the summer of 1904 our town was stunned by the news: Herzl was dead. It is hard to describe what a blow it was for all of us, young and old. I was profoundly depressed—darkness filled my world, the light was gone from my life.” read more

The Futility of Revenge: Thoughts on the Crisis in Israel—by Peter Eisenstadt

The Futility of Revenge: Thoughts on the Crisis in Israel
Peter Eisenstadt

A few words on the horrible events in Israel this week. The discovery of the bodies of the three murdered yeshiva students, followed by the immolation of a Muslim teenager as a revenge murder; and the cynical manipulation of the frenzy by the Netanyahu government, which tried to use to its own political advantage, breaking up the Fatah-Hamas alliance by rousing the rabble, and many other horrible events.

The big word of the week was “revenge,” which many in Israel called for in the most terrible fashion until it spiraled out of control and led to the murder of the Palestinian climate, and with Palestinians seething in the West Bank, Gaza, and Israel proper, the region seemed on the brink of a new intifada. This is probably not wanted by anyone, or by very few–Palestinians have too many nightmares about the 2nd intifada to want a repeat of any sort, and Netanyahu, despite considerable opposition from his own cabinet, doesn’t want the headache of another war. read more

Reb Zalmen and Howard Thurman—by Peter Eisenstadt

Reb Zalmen and Howard Thurman
Peter Eisenstadt

My dear friend, the late Aaron Braveman, who spent over half a century in Jewish education, used to complain to me, “nowadays, the only thing people want from Judaism is spirituality, spirituality, and spirituality.” Aaron was a fervent believer in Judaism, but like so many in his generation, it did not involve personal encounters with God. If Judaism has changed in this regard, it is due in large measure to the influence of Zalmen Schachter-Shalomi, or Reb Zalmen, who combined Hasidic piety with an exuberant counter-cultural sensibility that knew few bounds. After a long, remarkable, and sometimes messy life, Reb Zalmen passed away this week at age 89. read more

Balaam—by Barbara D. Holender

Barbara D. Holender

“Come and curse this nation for me”
(Balak, Num. 22:6)
“Since God has blessed them, I cannot reverse it.”
(Balak, Num. 23:20)

How can I tell you what came over me?
Not that the beast found her voice–
any simple sorcerer can pull that trick–
but that I, the most articulate of men,
lost mine. It was as if a spell seized me;
my mind was perfectly clear, I knew
exactly my mission and, being practical,
I always find for the one who pays my rent.
It was my own mouth betrayed me. read more

“Zionism Unsettled” Creates Zionist Demons—by Michael Aronson

Zionism Unsettled
Creates Zionist Demons
Michael Aronson

The central fault of Zionism Unsettled, the Presbyterian Church’s recently published teaching and discussion tool on the Israeli-Palestinian occupation, is the lofty goal it sets for itself. In trying to answer the question, what are the problems of Zionism, it finds itself trying to answer another, fiercely difficult question, what is Zionism, in absolute terms in order to back up its claims. The problems are conflated with the phenomenon such that the phenomenon becomes the problem. read more

What Shunamit Wants People to Know About Her Life—by Ayala Emmett

What Shunamit Wants People to Know About Her Life

Ayala Emmett

My niece Shunamit, nicknamed Shuni, a young woman with disabilities wrote what she would like people to know about her life: “I am 36 years of age. I work in Jerusalem at Hadassah Hospital Mount Scopus as a support person in the daycare center for chronically ill children. I am well liked at work, I learn and I improve, I am content and I do my job well.”

Shunamit left standing, at Hadassah hospital with staff
Shunamit left standing, at Hadassah hospital with staff

Her biographical work-narrative would not surprise people in the U.S., in Israel and in many countries where work is seen as an integral part of defining adulthood. For people with disabilities like Shunamit, however, participation in the workplace is far from taken for granted and was brought about by an innovative program initiated by The Feuerstein Institute. read more

Divestment: A Reply to Jewish Friends—by Drew Ludwig

Divestment: A Reply to Jewish Friends
Drew Ludwig

The General Assembly deliberated for quite some time, and was careful as to what we were doing, and to what we were saying–and not saying. I was there, and can speak to the prayer and thought that went into this action.

We are

not divesting from Israel, nor are we labeling Israel an apartheid state. We also acted to clearly state that this action is not an endorsement of, or participation in the BDS movement.

Instead, we have chosen to divest from three particular companies that are not in line with our pre-determined strategy of non-investment in military technology. Our MRTI team (Mission Responsibility Through Investment) team has not only investigated these technologies, but has also engaged each of the companies in an attempt to bring our investments back in line with our values–repeatedly–to no avail. read more

Dhaka Low-Income Women, Confinement and Postpartum Depression—by Anaise Williams

Dhaka Low-Income Women, Confinement and Postpartum Depression
Anaise Williams
U.S. Fulbright Project

Nothing has changed since before the birth, I just have to take more care and feed another person, she says simply while passing me a cup of cha with ginger. Shopna had her first baby 6 months ago in her family’s Bangladeshi village in Borishal, assisted by her mother and aunt, and returned to Dhaka 3 months after the birth to be with her husband, a furniture maker in the slum. Today I, unintentionally of course, woke her up at 11am while knocking on the locked door to her single room to do a follow-up interview for my project on postpartum depression. read more

Pope Francis in Palestine and Israel

“I have a huge crush on the Pope,” I announced to my coworkers in our Hebron apartment* over supper last fall. “I suppose that’s weird, being Mennonite and all, but…”

“No,” my teammate said, “I’m Muslim and I have a crush on the Pope.”

Even my Jewish husband—who was at first skeptical of Pope Francis because of his silence as Archbishop in Argentina during the 1970s-80s when the U.S.-backed junta was torturing and murdering thousands of Argentineans—has admitted he has been a drastic improvement over recent occupants of the Papal See. read more