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Betwixt and Between

Tuesday, 21 February 2006

Is it an awful thing to admit that I sometimes tire of discussing the Middle East?

I shudder even as I write this, but it is true. Sometimes I just want to talk about something else. And yet, I can’t help but scour the headlines daily for news about our homeland.

I never completely feel at home…in either place. I am a proud and loyal American. My family has been here for three generations, my grandfather served in the Army, and I consider myself American. And yet my Judaism sets me apart from the majority and I am keenly aware of a sense of otherness. When I am in Israel, I am set apart by both my American-ness (that is not really a word, of course.) and my Reform ideology. And still, I feel a sense of belonging there that I cannot describe.

So when I tire of the discussion, I feel guilty. Guilty because in fact I have no right to tire of a discussion that does not directly impact my physical well-being. It is rather chutzpadic of me to arbitrarily decide when I feel like thinking about the political mess in Israel and when I would rather pretend that it does not exist. You can bet that for Israelis, they would love to have the freedom to take a day off from the national tension that has become part and parcel of living in Israel.

And so I once again direct you to Rabbi Daniel Gordis, whose dispatch this week once again elucidates so poignantly what it means to live in Israel. And I am particularly excited to report that Rabbi Gordis’s new book Coming Together, Coming Apart: A Memoir of Heartbreak and Promise in Israel is scheduled to be published this summer. If his earlier writings are any indication, this will be a passionate and insightful look into the soul of our people.

In the meantime, as the Psalmist urges,

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem; May those who love you prosper. May there be peace be within your walls, and prosperity within your palaces. (Psalm 122:6-7)

Amen v’amen.

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