Posts tagged " israel "

Is Evangelical Support Good for the Jews?

September 6th, 2018 Posted by AAJC Happenings, On Our Mind 4 comments

The following appeared in Jewish in Seattle magazine, the August/September 2018, edition. The question posed to Rabbi Daniel Lapin was, “Is Evangelical support good for the Jews?”

Forgive me for conforming to the rabbinic stereotype of answering a question with a question but when you ask “…good for the Jews?”  which Jews do you mean?  I often tell my audiences that if you gathered together, into a colossal stadium, every self-identifying American Jew, the only thing you could get us all to agree on is that Hitler was a very bad man.

Evangelical support is good for those Jews who see modern day Israel as a fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham.  The nexus of American support for Israel is not Foggy Bottom. The State Department has long leaned Arab.  The United States was not the first country to recognize Israel in May 1948; the Soviet Union was.  But since 1948, Christian Evangelical strength in America has skyrocketed and paralleling it, so has American support for the Jewish state.  America’s Bible belt has become Israel’s safety belt.

For Jews who would rather see slightly less whole-hearted support for Israel and who would prefer a nuanced vision for the Middle East in which Jew and Arab are seen as equivalent partners with congruent understandings of peace, well, Evangelical support is not so good.

Should we criticize Evangelical support for being self-serving?  Though most Evangelicals dispute this, undoubtedly some Christians support Israel to accelerate messianic days.  Jewish law mandates that we owe a debt of gratitude even to someone wishing us harm but who unintentionally does us good.  At the very least we ought to gratefully welcome the support of those who wish us only good.

In today’s post-Christian Europe, Jewish men can no longer walk the streets of Paris, Manchester, Cologne, or Stockholm while wearing a kippah on their heads.  Evangelical philo-Semitism indirectly helps protect kippah-wearing men in America.  I for one, welcome their support and express a heartfelt thank you.

Why don’t you live in Israel?

July 25th, 2018 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 9 comments

I’m always wondering why your family never moved to Israel?

Matt

Susan and I did something unusual last week. While we always work on the Ask the Rabbi column together, our answers to this question diverge somewhat because of the different way each of us was raised. Susan answered this question in her Susan’s Musing and I am going to initially answer here, although Susan will join in at some point – you will see us switch from singular to plural.

As Susan said in her response, the commandment to live in Israel is one among many. While she was raised in a religious Zionist atmosphere that does encourage Jews from around the world to move to Israel, I was not. In the worldview of my family and my teachers,  the political State of Israel, founded largely by atheistic socialists in the early years of the 20th century, certainly did make it easier to live in Israel.  However,  from a religious point of view, the obligation for a Jew to live in the holy land had been no less stringent earlier while the land was under Babylonian, Persian, Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman or British rule. In other words, the mass return of Jews to the land after the State’s founding in 1948 was not really the equivalent to the return under the leadership of Ezra and Nehemiah around 400 BC. 

Not only was the State of Israel merely a political entity, in its early years there was a great deal of hostility towards religion. My great-uncle and teacher, Rabbi Eliyahu Lopian, relocated to the land of Israel late in his life and opened a Yeshiva (Bible school). My parents sent me as a 12 year-old to live and study with him for a few years.  I clearly remember the taunts and provocations that came my way from anti-religious Israelis. On our part, we loved the land as Jews have for millennia, but the founding of the sovereign State of Israel in 1948 didn’t really change much.  That was how I was raised.  Needless to say, both the State of Israel and my views have changed over the years.

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Why not Israel?

July 19th, 2018 Posted by Susan's Musings 27 comments

I love puzzles. Jigsaw puzzles, crossword puzzles, acrostics, Sudoku, logic puzzles…a book full of puzzles even keeps me somewhat content on a cross-country flight. I am telling you this to put into perspective my answer to a question that came to our Ask the Rabbi column.

Matt asked, “I’m always wondering why your family never moved to Israel?” 

While my husband and I always answer the Ask the Rabbi questions as a team, I’m going to make an exception for this one and let my husband answer in that venue while presenting my own answer here. You see, my husband and I received very different upbringings with regard to the modern State of Israel. While the land of Israel is unquestionably precious and special to all Jews and has been since the days of Abraham, how love for the land translates into action is a different matter.

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How can I support Israel?

October 10th, 2017 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 3 comments

Hi Rabbi! I have been listening to your teachings for about 5 years and they are incredibly valuable! Thank you for your willingness to state the truth, even though it can be difficult for people to hear and is counter-culture. I have two questions totally unrelated to one another but both important:

1) Do you have an opinion on (name of ministry)?

2) Is there a recommended method for an individual to support Israel from US soil?

Thank you so much!

Carissa G.

Thanks for being a long-time listener, Carissa. We are very blessed with a wonderful large audience who is eager for the truth of how the world REALLY works even when the information causes cognitive dissonance.

You asked our opinion of a ministry. We aren’t comfortable answering that because it isn’t someone we know personally and, as such, we probably have less knowledge of the pastor than you do. The world is a very large place.

As for supporting Israel, at this time in history, supporting Israel has a lot in common with supporting America. Both countries are under assault and we all must refuse to be cowed and silenced by bullies. We need to speak up because what people around the world say about both Israel and America tells us more about them then it does about either Israel or America. That means that is is well worth making the effort to becoming educated and articulate on the topics. Make sure that the information you get is honest and fair.

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How My Israeli Children Are Different from Me – guest post

July 25th, 2017 Posted by On Our Mind 1 comment

I love reading the blog posts of a woman who writes from Israel under the name “Jewish Mom.” She has given permission to repost what she wrote after the slaughter of the Salomon family at their home on Friday night. I have put an asterisk next to terms that may be unfamiliar to many of you and written a glossary at the bottom. I apologize if that makes the article more difficult to read, but I think it very worthwhile.

When I was growing up in Baltimore, I learned which neighborhoods were safe and which neighborhoods were dangerous. Which places I could go to, and which places I should carefully avoid.

And since I moved to Israel 24 years ago, I’ve been doing the same thing.

When I heard that 2 Israeli police officers had been shot to death and, later, there was rioting in and surrounding the Old City, I shook my head with concern and decided to nix the outing I had been planning to daven* this week at the Kotel*. When I heard that 3 members of the Solomon family celebrating the Shalom Zachar* of a newborn baby boy, were murdered by an Arab terrorist around the corner from my daughter’s high school in Neve Tsuf, I got more scared and started keeping our doors and windows locked at all times.

Looking out for Number One, just like when I was growing up.

But my kids and kids around Israel have been responding differently to the recent tragedies here…

Yesterday, my bat mitzvah girl’s summer camp cancelled their planned outing to the Jerusalem Forest and took all the girls to the Kotel instead.

Another daughter’s youth group decided to move the location of the scavenger hunt they had planned from downtown Jerusalem to the Old City.

And it’s not just my kids.

Yesterday, several high school girls approached me and my daughter when we were in a store and handed us a slip of paper they had prepared with a psalm, urging us to read it for the safety and security of Am Yisrael*.

Then this morning at the light-rail station, some elementary school girls handed me a toffee attached to a note that read, “The Race to a Million Blessings: Say a blessing over this toffee for the elevation of the souls of the Solomon family victims HY”D*.”

Seeing how my kids and their peers are reacting to current events has made me realize that when I get scared, I do what I did when I was growing up. I look out for Number One. I stay away from the Old City, I lock my doors, I nervously check out the Arab passengers standing beside me on the light rail (that man’s too old to pull out a knife, that woman’s with her baby, so there’s no way she’s about to start stabbing people with a pair of scissors.)

And these Israeli kids, in their own way, are also looking out of Number One. But their Number One, I’m realizing, is different than mine. For them, their Number One is Am Yisrael* and Eretz Yisrael*. The Jewish people and the Land of Israel. And praying for Hashem’s protection and mercy upon them.

A year and a half ago there was a terror attack next to the Old City’s Jaffa Gate, and the young father of a large family was brutally murdered while walking home from work. That Friday night, my then 15-year-old daughter informed me after candle-lighting that she and her friends were going to daven at a minyan* next to Jaffa Gate that night.

And I told her: “You can’t go to Jaffa Gate! There was just a terror attack there yesterday!”

“Eema*,” she responded slowly, as if speaking to someone who didn’t fully understand her language, “of course I know there was a terror attack there. That’s why we’re going there!”

I recently heard a French-born father of 11 Israeli children speaking about what it’s like moving to Israel. And this what he said:

“Moving to Israel is like climbing a very high mountain. You are climbing and climbing, you are breathing hard and sweating from the steep climb. And then you achieve the impossible–you reach the top. And when you get there, you sit down to catch your breath, and you turn around and find your children sitting there, at the peak.

‘How did you possibly make the climb up here? It was so steep and high and difficult!’ you ask them.

And your children answer you, ‘We didn’t have to climb at all. We were born here.’”

*Glossary:

daven: pray

Kotel: The Western Wall; The Wailing Wall

Shalom Zachar: a celebration that takes place the Friday night after a baby’s birth

HY”D: God will avenge their blood

Am Yisrael: the nation (people) of Israel

Eretz Yisrael: the land of Israel

minyan: a prayer group

Eema: Hebrew for Mommy

 

June 4th, 2017 Posted by AAJC Happenings No Comment yet

Miracles Happen

May 2nd, 2017 Posted by On Our Mind 1 comment

Sixty-nine years ago, the modern state of Israel was born. The first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion, not an overtly religious man said:  “In Israel, in order to be a realist, you must believe in miracles.”  This is as true today as it was in 1948.

Bzzz. Moo. A Recipe for Growth

January 3rd, 2017 Posted by Thought Tools 24 comments

A friend of mine recently celebrated the long-awaited arrival of his first child and almost overnight he became a different man.  He drove his car a bit more cautiously.  His facial expression looked a little more mature.  His approach to work seemed more focused.  While lovingly cradling his infant, he said to me, “Rabbi, I can’t believe what I created!”

I pretended not to hear him and cupping a hand about my ear, I asked, “What was that I heard?”  He repeated what he had just told me. “No, no,” I said.  “I heard you all right but I had to listen a bit more carefully to hear your son.”

“My son?” he asked, looking baffled.  “Yes, your son just said exactly the same thing.  He moved a tiny finger to point at you and he murmured, ‘Rabbi, I can’t believe what I created.’ “

I continued, “Yes, I think it true that more than a man creates a child, it is the child who creates a father.”

There are many life transforming experiences. Many have the potential to transform us into our higher selves while, of course, there are those experiences which will transform us into lesser beings.  Then there are experiences, like watching cat videos on the Internet, which do nothing at all.

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Courage. Faith. Principle

October 14th, 2016 Posted by On Our Mind 2 comments

We spent Thursday night with a few hundred Christians who are picking grapes in Israel. Then we met a small group of new Jewish Israeli immigrants on Friday morning. All these people are in the “occupied territory,” a term designed to denigrate them and twist public opinion. How wonderful to be with strong and Godly people. You can catch an interview with some of these people on the current podcast.

Adina’s Israel Story – Guest Musing

October 6th, 2016 Posted by Susan's Musings 10 comments

Adina is the daughter of one of my best friends and one of my daughter’s best friends.  My aunt and uncle and many of my cousins and friends live within a short distance of Adina and her family. This is her story.

We overslept this morning. Instead of our usual 6am wake up, my husband woke with a start at 6:50. I was nursing the baby while he got up to brush his teeth. Within minutes he returned, handing me his phone silently. “Terrorist apprehended in Zayit neighborhood of Efrat, one wounded, all residents told to stay indoors.” I handed his phone back to him and said, “oh.”

Oh.

Sometimes there is no response to the unthinkable. Sometimes there is no response to what is almost inevitable and yet we hope and pray so desperately to avoid.

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