A Month of Moments

In this month of Iyar, there are many days that stand out for their historic resonance - days that have been added to the Jewish calendar by events that transpired in the last century and even in some of our lifetimes.

On Wednesday, May 1, 6:15 p.m., we will be observing Yom Ha’Shoah V’HaGevurah (“Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day”) with Mishkan member and artist Alan Horn-Greenberg, our Hebrew School students, and some of those who helped design, establish and sponsor our outdoor and indoor Shoah Memorials. Erika Aaron will speak to her family’s journey in the Shoah as we dedicate the plaque in their memory in the indoor Shoah memorial.

You can read the transcript of the speech on Anti-Semitism I gave at the 50th Anniversary Freedom Seder, on pages 10-11.

This month also includes Yom Ha’aztmaut, Israel Independence Day, the anniversary of the founding of the Modern State of Israel in 1948 - but a day also referred to by many Israeli Arabs and Palestinians as Nakba, or “day of decimation.” There will be a program on Wednesday, May 8, 6:30 pm to marking the holiday.A group of about 50 of us have been sharing events, ideas and resources on a listserv established last year to discuss issues related to Israel and Palestine, and Rabbi Brian Walt’s recent visit. Please be in touch with Seth Horwitz if you wish to join this listserve.

I am delighted that one of our own members, Jacob Bender, the only Jewish Executive Director of a regional CAIR chapter, will be screening and discussing his film, “Out of Cordoba: Averroes and Maimonides in Their Time and Oursat Mishkan, Wednesday, May 8.

Our own movement, now called Reconstructing Judaism, has been built on some philosophical and theological approaches that many of us may not be familiar with. Exploring Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan’s ideas about “spiritual Zionism” and the many articles from “The Reconstructionist” magazine are vital for us to understand some of our own movement’s influences. Reconstructing Judaism is exploring a new Task Force on Israel, building on the prior 2004 Task Force, which is still in process and included as some of its basic guiding principles:

  • We will advocate for those in Israeli politics and society who know that it is untenable to continue to rule over a Palestinian population that has no right to vote and no control over their own collective future, however remote and unclear a solution to that dilemma might be.
  • We will remind American Jews and all others that Israel operates in a wildly volatile and dangerous region, that anti-Semitism is a real and vicious threat, and we encourage our constituents to take thoughtful and well-informed positions.
  • We will model respectful public discourse, despite the all-too-common human impulse to shout down and berate people with whom we disagree. Following our Reconstructionist principles, dissent will be welcome. We do not expect, let alone require, consensus.

In the last couple of years, our movement began offering learning networks on-line regarding “dual Israeli and Palestinian narratives.” You will also find on page 12 of this Kol Shalom an updated compilation of organizations and resources that address Israel- Palestine issues. These resources can support our own communal discussions and actions.

Beyond discussing ideas and concepts, my own way of engaging with Israel and Palestine is by committing to building relationships with Israelis and Palestinians - locally, in Israel/Palestine, and around the world.We are blessed to be able to see this film and explore dimensions of Muslim-Jewish relationships from the middle ages through today.

I especially appreciate the work of Friends of the Earth Middle East ,as well as others who understand that environmental justice is key to the safety, security and future of the Middle East. No initiative will provide the peace desired without addressing sustainability of the region, the planet and water, soil, air, etc.

On Friday, May 10, we will gather for our annual Yad l’Yad (Hand to Hand) award honoring of Mishkan Shalom volunteer leaders, this year celebrating Ilene Burak, Alexis Lieberman and David Piver. Yad l’Yad awards are given to recognize those whose contributions and service to Mishkan Shalom have helped to make our community stronger, more vibrant and a better place. While often these accomplishments and service fly beneath the radar, they are so important to our community.

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Our month ends with the last sessions of our Hebrew school on May 19 and May 22, where we celebrate our students and their families. Please remember that the best way for us to grow our Hebrew school and larger Mishkan community is by your inviting family, friends and acquaintances to join you at Mishkan Shalom services and programs. We are also having our annual Weekend in the Woods Mishkan Shalom retreat at Camp Havaya on Memorial Day weekend. For many of us, myself included, this is a highlight of the year!

I look forward to sharing the month ahead with all of you, in prayer, in discussion, in celebration and commemoration, in learning and activism at Mishkan Shalom and in the streets and spaces of our larger community. Hazak Hazak v’nithazek- Let us be strong and strengthen each other!

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