I have always loved being Jewish. At times in my life I kept this great love of mine fairly quiet and out of sight as I was part of a social and political grouping in which a fierce ethnicity was not really a dominant part of our culture. It was a time where our culture was defined by our participation in a struggle which transcended what were then perceived as narrow boundaries.
In recent years, probably due to the many, many years I have lived in Israel, or should this read, in spite of the many, many years I have lived in Israel (?), as well as the time I spent working for the Movement for Reform Judaism in the UK and the powerful experiences of Jewish travel in my Jewish Journeys world, my every day has been a Jewish experience.
Last night lighting candles in my temporary home on the Upper East Side, just one road away from the 92nd St Y and an hour after seeing Black Swan, I felt so at peace and at home with my Jewish Identity. Just think of this: working as a Shaliach for Habonim Dror, the Socialist Zionist youth movement I grew up in, enjoying my Friday night services at Bnei Yeshurun (BJ) on the Upper West Side, lighting candles with Orly who is loving her Yiddish Studies classes at the Y and with Maya my 22 year old IDF officer thinking of spending her next year after finishing the army doing Social Justice work with Tzedek B’Tevel (Justice in the world) in Nepal. These are all part of my Jewish Identity.
And this is why I am so angry with the Psak Halacha (Rabbinical Ruling) that a group of Israeli Rabbis officially employed by the Ministry of the Interior as Municipal Rabbis have just published in Israel calling on Jews not to rent to Arabs in the cities they work in. They are destroying this Jewish life and world I so enjoy. If we fall again as a culture and a people, it will be because of these spreaders of hatred, of senseless hatred.
I can live with Eli Yishai’s pathetic manipulations as he worms his way out of responsibility for the Carmel fire. I hate to say this, but the fire was not an existential threat to Israel as painful as it was. This is. We have to say it as it is. It is disgusting. It cannot be excused. If we, Israeli taxpayers, do not demand that people who spew out such filth in the name of Judaism are dismissed from office, then we must accept the consequences. And, they could be many, but I will focus on one only: more and more great young Israelis, like my daughter the IDF officer, my medical student son, my young daughter who fought to be accepted by the IDF so she could serve in spite of a medical condition and who is now working with the most difficult of populations as an educator so she can make a difference, will all walk away from their Jewish identity and the culture which I so love.
I want to name and shame these rabbis as they should be known to all. Here are the names I know: Rabbi Ya’akov Edelstein of Ramat Hasharon, Rabbi Yosef Sheinin of Ashdod, Rabbi Moshe Havlin of Kiryat Gat, Rabbi David Wolpe of Rishon LeZion, Rabbi Avraham Margalit of Carmiel, Rabbi Tzion Sudery of Gedera, Rabbi Shmuel David of Afula, Rabbi Simcha Hacohen of Rechovot, Rabbi Azaria Basis of Rosh Ha’ayin, Rabbi Yitzchak Yakobowitz of Herzliah, Rabbi Yeshaya Meitels of Naharia, Rabbi David Tzedakah of Pardes Hana, Rabbi Avraham Ochion of Ofakim.
When I think of what we suffered at the hands of those who could not bear to live in the same neighbourhoods as we did, my revulsion is even greater and I thank the Rabbis of the Tzohar organization who have offered a different Halachic ruling for trying to prevent this rabble of rabbis from destroying what I care for so deeply.