I love Rosh Hashana. The music. The gathering of the community. The opportunities for connecting deeply with people at services and in conversations during the day.
I wonder sometimes what it's like to be at other congregations. So, in what was likely an ill-advised moment today, I took a quick online tour of some Reform temples' websites. What struck me was the fear and negativity on the subject of Israel.
One temple offers hyperlinks to "Israel news" sources such as the partisan Debka files. Under "Palestinian media" this synagogue offers a link to a Jewish-Israeli site that documents Palestinian media critical of Israel.
Hatred and fear.
This synagogue offers is no credible Palestinian source, but plenty of rightwing Jewish sources.
Another temple's website features their rabbi's blog on their homepage. In this week's missive, the rabbi offers a succinct attack on the Palestinian bid for statehood. To summarize:
If the Palestinians win a state - the result will be violence (I presume against Jews. Violence against Palestinians hardly qualifies as news).
And if the Palestinians lose - well, that too will lead to violence.
Whatever the outcome of the Palestinians' intitiative, Israel will suffer. So, let's all be terrified of the Palestinians' honest desire for self-determination. Yea for victimhood!
What is deplorable about these attitudes is how normative they are. Even supporters of peace and justice in Israel/Palestine are expected - and do - live with their synagogues and clergy fomenting hatred for and fear of the Palestinians.
Traditionally, on Rosh Hashana you are not supposed to take a daytime nap. But let me daydream for a moment....
Imagine if the norm was that Jewish leadership took the opposite view. Synagogues praised the courage of this peaceful bid for membership at the UN. Jewish leaders expressed excitement at the unfolding of the Palestinian quest for statehood. Synagogues websites offered credible Palestinian and Jewish viewpoints that presented a vision of hope and a just peace for both sides...the promise that Palestinian statehood holds for Israeli Jews.
May the passing year be the end of a culture of fear
and the new year herald solidarity and a vision for a just and sustainable future
May the passing year see the end of Israeli intransigence
and the new year be one of Jewish pride in the peaceful agenda of the State of Israel
May the passing year see the end of a Jewish identity bound up in erecting walls of mistrust
and the the new year be one of understanding our power and using that power to stand in solidarity with the downtrodden and oppressed
May the passing year see the end of the domination of hatred and fear in the American Jewish community
and the new year see a Jewish community that welcomes voices of peace and justice...for Israel, Palestine, for the United States and for the whole world.