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Showing posts from September, 2019

For or Against: Complicating the American Dialogue on Israel

The following piece was originally published here under the title "Am I pro-Israel or anti-Israel? I hate this question!" as a featured post in The Times of Israel Blogs.  The Jews of America are exhausted. The past three years under Trump have been a perplexing and somber reminder that antisemitism and racism are alive and well. Since Trump’s election we’ve witnessed white supremacists march in the streets of Charlottesville, threats and vandalism on synagogues and Jewish community centers, assassination attempts on multiple high-profile Jewish Democrats, and in Pittsburg, the deadliest mass shooting of Jews in American history.  The GOP and an increasingly irritable Donald Trump have weaponized cries of antisemitism for right wing causes, almost never on behalf of the majority of diaspora Jews, but instead co-opting extremist Israeli views (such as withholding civilian aid to Gaza and the West Bank) as their own and dangerously casting them representative of the American Je…

To love your neighbor is to respect them first: musings on egalitarian prayer at the Kotel

The following piece was originally published here in The Times of Israel Blogs.  *** And God said, “let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” (Gen. 1:26) From the very beginnings of our scriptural tradition, the emphasis in our being made in the likeness of God is very clear. B’Tzelem Elohim, or, “in God’s Image”, is one of the most commonly cited values of Progressive Jewish organizations in the United States today. Among the other values held by these organizations is “Kol Yisrael Arevim Zeh Bazeh” or “all Israel is responsible for another.” This text, originating from Shavuot 39a, is Talmudic, and very much a binding principle of our Rabbinic tradition. Of course, the term ‘Israel’ here applies to the people of Israel, the Israelites; or in our modern context, the Jewish people. We are obligated by Judaism’s scriptural and rabbinic law to share responsibility for those in our community, and to be inclusive of them, for we are all equal in our origins and in our worthiness…