State of Affairs in Israel

August 2023   Keeping Connected

I hope you are well; finding downtime to enjoy the summer and to have meaningful and fun experiences of renewal. I wanted to follow-up on my letter from last week regarding the current state of affairs in Israel. I feel like we are on a fast-moving train and that each day there will be new developments in the aftermath of the Knesset’s vote of 64-0 to change the reasonability clause. I am not sure you were able to listen to the webinar with Rabbi Daniel Gordis and Rabbi Marc Baker that was organized by CJP. Rabbi Gordis is a renown historian and commentator/author about Israeli politics, culture and more. Although he and I at times have different viewpoints, I found his presentation to be gripping, painful and timely. He also at the outset of the presentation remarked that he was a part of a vastly diverse movement of people with a wide spectrum of opinions. What binds those who are concerned, outraged and afraid is the belief that this vote, as it currently stands, is an existential threat to Israel. Rabbi Marc Baker, the head of CJP asked at the end of the presentation, “What does this moment require from American Jews?” Rabbi Gordis’ opinion is that this is a hard question, but that ultimately we should “lean in” to the situation and not walk away. That we should more than anything educate ourselves; by reading the legislation itself and to learn from other resources, articles, scholars, etc. Rabbi Gordis personal hope is that there could be a constitutional convention and suggested a document regarding what this might entail. He also concluded and here I am quoting, “This is D-Day. There is no room to pretend…. This is not a great day for Israel. Israel is not okay. This is the most profound crisis ever.” He told the audience to the webinar to no put on a great face and do not lie.“This is D-Day”.

Clearly these conclusions are his personal opinion, but I feel the necessity to share these thoughts and concerns with you as well. I believe, as he does, that we are a diverse community with different viewpoints and opinions about Israel and Israeli policies. Regardless, I would hope we all would want the democratic principles and institutions in Israel to remain robust and healthy. I personally plan on reading and learning as much as I can and would like to share with you resources to do the same. My plan is to present a wide array of perspectives and information so that you might be able to access information in a quick and timely way. Liz Jegasothy helped me develop a Google Drive document.  Please use this link. I will be regularly adding articles, webinars and resources to this file and you can check in by date to see what is new. I have also begun to read the book The Land of Hope and Fear: Israel’s Battle for its Inner Soul by Isabel Kershner. Please let me know if you are interested in reading the book and having a discussion in September or October. If you would like to participate please e-mail Liz Jegasothy at rsvp your interest.

Finally, during the month of Elul, which begins on Friday night, August 18th, our congregation will be having weekly study sessions to spiritually prepare for the High Holidays. More information regarding these programs will follow next week.


Rabbi Shoshana M. Perry