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Rabbis and Leaders Respond

Israel in Crisis, Reconstructionist Leaders Respond

The High Holidays of 5775 (2014) arrived in the wake of Operation Protective Edge: Israel's longest war since the 1948 War of Independence. During the war, a group of Reconstructionist rabbis visited in Israel as part of a long-scheduled mission. The trip was scheduled long before the war, and greatly affected those visiting. 

Soon after the cease-fire at the end of August, the Jewish New Year came, and with it, opportunities for rabbis to speak to their assembled communities. Many chose to speak about Israel this year --  and not only those who had visited during the war. The need was clear to speak about their hopes, fears, love, and concern for Israel. 

This outflowing of passionate engagement with Israel was so powerfully affecting to the listeners in individual communities, that we decided to share it with the wider world. Below, you'll see the writings of more than 20 Reconstructionist rabbis and RRC graduates, as well as an RRC faculty member. These pieces originated as sermons, as newspaper op-eds, as blog posts. The range of views and political convictions the rabbis articulated was very wide. But their shared concern, love, and connection to Israel speak for themselves. 

Most of these pieces were written more than six months ago, in the wake of war. While the immediate context has passed, Israel's struggles and achievements remain ever-relevant.

At times when the Jewish community has seethed with conflict over Israel politics, some leaders find it easier to ignore difficult issues for the fear of alienating those who think and feel differently. But these leaders felt the need, and found the courage and the heart, not only to talk about difficult matters, but to model what real dialogue looks like. There is no one party line in our movement regarding Israel, but each of these speakers shows that diversity of opinion is not a threat: apathy is. We present these varied voices as a model for our own ongoing, nuanced conversation about Israel: our concern, our connection, our hope. 

Civil and Open Dialogue
Title Author
Why A Palestinian State Is Essential Rabbi Michael Cohen
Israel: Telling a New Story Rabbi Toba Spitzer
The Narrative of Compassion Rabbi Toba Spitzer
Truth or Consequences Rabbi Sid Schwarz
Loyalty, Truth, and Freedom of Expression Rabbi Sid Schwarz
Limiting Debate on Israel will Only Hurt Us Rabbi Sid Schwarz
Deeper Minds and Wider Hearts Needed Rabbi Arnie Rachlis
Namaste, Shalom: Rethinking our Communities of Belonging Rabbi Ron Aigen
Addressing Israel/Palestine: My Story, a New Resolve Rabbi Lauren Grabelle Herman
Love and Concern for Israel
Title Author
What Israel Means Rabbi Jacob Staub
Can Zionism Be the Answer? Rabbi Sid Schwarz
Good/Not Good: Reflections in the Aftermath of War Rabbi Yael Ridberg
On Israel, Yom Kippur 5775 Rabbi Jerry Seidler
Spiritual Optimism: Finding the Tunnel Rabbi Marc Margolius
I Am A Zionist Rabbi Michelle Stern
Israel: Moving Beyond Myths Rabbi Adam Zeff
Reactions in Wartime
Title Author
Israel: A Season of Reckoning Rabbi Sid Schwarz
Mar Elias Rabbi Sheila Weinberg
Encounter During the War Rabbi Sheila Weinberg
Standing for Something Profoundly Human Rabbi Les Bronstein
Israel Hitlamdut Rabbi Elliott Tepperman
On Israel, Rosh Hashanah 5775 Rabbi Jeff Sultar
A Still Small Voice - Parashat Pinchas Rabbi Barbara Penzner
Holding Both/And: Peoplehood and Universalism Rabbi Barbara Penzner
On Israel, Rosh Hashanah 2014 Rabbi Fred Schwalb
If A Shofar is Sounded in the City, Do the People Not Tremble? Rabbi David Steinberg
Vengeance, Trauma and Forgiveness Barbara Breitman
The Cry of the Shofar: A Call for Love of Israel Rabbi Alex Lazarus
Listening to the Other
Title Author
I Chose Silence: The Attribute of Sh'tikah Rabbi Joshua Lesser
Rethinking Ethnic Solidarity: Israel and Jewish Peoplehood Rabbi Laurie Zimmerman
On Israel - Kol Nidrei 5775 Rabbi Nina Mandel

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