Jerusalem — A.B. Yehoshua, the acclaimed Israeli novelist, is a proud secularist who almost never steps foot inside a synagogue. Why, then, did the writer and two dozen other prominent secular Israelis pledge their allegiance last week to the Reform and Conservative movements?
“I was motivated by the attack of the religious camps, especially the haredim [ultra-Orthodox], on these movements,” Yehoshua told The Jewish Week. “We think we have to support them more vigorously ... either by joining the movements or by becoming supporters.”
Israelis live a bifurcated existence. On the one hand they wearily read the morning paper, always knowing someone who is affected by a bomb, or the closing of businesses caused by the bomb. On the other hand, they go to bed dreaming of childhoods in Toronto or Paris or Arad, worrying about unfinished paintings, or remembering a first kiss behind the chicken coop near the abandoned kibbutz.
“...with the advent of the Internet and genomic technology, genealogy has entered a new age. The past year has served up a series of high-profile revelations. The news that Barack Obama’s ancestors owned slaves was a bit more surprising than the news that Strom Thurmond’s did. ... And Henry Louis Gates Jr. ... was astounded to learn that half of his own ancestry was European, including Irish kinsmen on his father’s side and two Jewish women on his mother’s.” —Steven Pinker, The New Republic, Aug. 6
You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope some day you’ll join us, and the world will be as one.
I’ve spent the past three days wondering what would happen if I could have put (the late) John Lennon and Israeli President Shimon Peres in the same room. Like the recurring leitmotif in so many Hassidic folktales, I think it’s possible that the messiah would have come. Two dreamers, trying to leapfrog over the messiness of this world to see what might lie beyond…