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Israel on our Minds

02/24/2011 11:28:57 AM

Feb24

Rabbi George Gittleman

With the Middle East in turmoil, the Jewish world turns to Israel wondering what the future will be. Coincidentally, just last Thursday I met with 15 members of our Social Action Committee to lead a dialogue about Israel as a pilot for a community-wide program. The goal was simple: to create a safe environment for people to express a diversity of opinions about Israel without fear of conflict or judgment.

As simple as that seems Israel is one of, if not the most challenging, issue for Jewish communities to civilly explore together. In fact, after years of what I experienced as divisive and not very productive, politically-oriented programming about Israel, I have moved in an apolitical direction and have attempted to take the congregation with me as well. It is not that I don’t have opinions about the current situation, the government, etc. Rather, I’ve come to the conclusion that it is more important to try to find ways for people to connect with Israel the country and it’s people than it is to provide forums for a critique of Israel’s policies.

There are times when Israel feels like the elephant in the room: people have Israel on their mind but do not have a forum in the congregation to discuss their feelings. That is where this pilot program comes in; it is an attempt to give people a voice without allowing that voice to reverberate in unhealthy ways in the congregation. All present at the dialogue were pleased with the results. We did not necessarily agree with each other, but everyone was able to speak their mind without cross talk or judgment. It is hard to know what we can do here in Santa Rosa about what is happening in Israel. One thing we can accomplish is to respectfully hear each others’ point of view. Perhaps from there an agenda will emerge that we can all embrace.

Thu, April 2 2020 8 Nisan 5780