Healing and Hope - In Israel and Around the World
Rabbi Joshua Hoffman
Clergy Corner, May 29, 2019
B.D.S., warring factions in the Knesset, the Nation-State Bill, Gaza, Muslims in Congress, antisemitism in Europe and America, hate speech on US college campuses, and on and on. It’s difficult to hear anything else beyond the shouts and murmurs about the State of Israel and the fate of Jews in the world. These past months there have also been an abundance of celebration in Israel, from talented musical expression in the Eurovision awards, to examples of religious tolerance and pluralism, to attempts to land on the moon, and on and on too.
Consider this: This past Monday, the United States paused for a moment to recognize those who died protecting the freedoms of our country and to honor those who served in wars and global conflicts. At the same time, hundreds of US Army veterans traveled to Israel with JNF to experience the beauty and history of the land, to see how the country honors its fallen soldiers, to experience a religious connection (many veterans even underwent baptisms in the Sea of Galilee) and to heal from the moral wounds inflicted in war. What other country on the planet painstakingly reaches out to veterans from another country, and enables them to find healing and repose within her borders? This happens in Israel.
This past Monday, an iftar, a celebratory meal during the month of Ramadan was hosted by Soda Stream, the model company once housed in the West Bank, now in a predominantly Bedouin town called Rahat, where the US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman remarked, "Muslims, Druze, Christians, and Jews working together, each making the other better, happier and more prosperous." In a news-cycle that reports ten times more examples of strife and discontent than the celebration of peace and equanimity, reading about a moment like this shouldn’t be quickly overlooked.
Even at the beginning of the month, Jerusalem authorities reported some 180,000 Muslim pilgrims peacefully visited the Temple Mount in honor of the beginning of Ramadan. We hold ourselves to high standards and time after time we exceed our expectations.
And the news about the rockets from Gaza? [Silence]
The point here is that when we hear troubling news about Israel, whether its political or social, we need to read what a positive force for good Israel continues to be. Certainly, there are moments of frustration, disappointment, and conflicts that afflict the Jewish people around the world. What we need more of is a return to balance, a sense that the scales of justice are more or less equal, a conviction that Israel and the ideals it represents for the Jewish people and the world is thriving amidst the tumult.
Read the news. Read it carefully. And remember that Israel remains a beacon of light, a source of healing and hope for the Jewish people and the world.