I don’t anticipate having a chance to write for next week’s paper– the week of Rosh Hashanah is just a little busy for rabbis in the pulpit– so I hope you’ll indulge me in sharing a thought that, though a few days early for the holiday itself, is actually timely for the Shabbat of S’lichot, the penitential prayers recited on the Saturday night before Rosh Hashanah.
The end of our stay in Okinawa, where my wife and I had been staying with our daughter and son-in-law upon the birth of their first child, coincided with the arrival of my son-in-law’s parents. Our brief overlap allowed all us to be present for our granddaughter Calanit’s Simhat Bat, the ceremony in which she was formally welcomed into the community of Israel, and the eternal covenant between God and the Jewish people.
As I write, I am about as far from my home and synagogue in Forest Hills as I can be, or at least as I am likely to get. I am sitting in the living room of my daughter Leora’s apartment on Marine Camp Foster, one of some fifteen American military bases on the tiny but strategically important island of Okinawa, Japan. She is married, as many of you know, to Rabbi/Lieutenant Yonatan (Yoni) Warren, a Navy chaplain who is currently posted to a Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) here in the Far East. A MEU is basically a Rapid Deployment Force that can move quickly to where the trouble is. There are a few of them stationed around the world in potentially volatile areas; this one covers the Far East. We are very, very proud of his service, and hers.
Like every war, the current conflict between Israel and Hamas has a broad narrative that varies according to who is telling the story. But it is also true that this war, like every war, is made up of countless stories of individual soldiers and civilians whose lives have been directly impacted.
When will we learn that no one group or ideology owns 'love of Israel?'
Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik
Jewish Week Online Columnist
Story Includes Video:
As the June 1 Israel Parade draws closer, some organizations are threatening not to march. They are protesting the decision of parade sponsors to allow organizations like the New Israel Fund– a favorite target of the right wing of the Zionist movement– to be included in the parade, because of its alleged sympathy for the BDS strategy (boycott, divestment and sanction) designed to modify Israel’s position on settlements in the West Bank. The NIF steadfastly denies supporting BDS. They (the more right-wing organizations) feel that the NIF and its friends should have no place at the Zionist table, or at a parade that salutes Israel. And as long as they do, these more right-wing organizations won’t march.
Conventions often take professionals to exotic locations, not least of all to entice potential participants to attend. Dallas was not chosen for my rabbinic convention- the Rabbinical Assembly- because it's exotic. It actually has a significant Jewish community, and our new president, Rabbi Bill Gershon, leads a major congregation there.
When we think of the challenges of hosting a seder, the physical – the cleaning and cooking – immediately spring to mind. Another challenge is negotiating the tension between the meal’s ritual requirements and the obligation to make the story actually speak to the participants who are there.