I am moving apartments this week. It’s a tough and emotional process, but like everyone else coping with these kind of challenges these days, how can you complain? Proportionality has become a fact of life in Israel, just like the sirens and the terrible images from southern Israel and Gaza. I spent this Shabbat in an empty apartment, surrounded by boxes, not sure where I packed my reading glasses, fully aware that my quiet desperation paled in comparison with the feelings of the thousands of mothers who spent this Shabbat unsure of where their sons or spouses are. Read more…
This blog originally appeared at ReformJudaism.org on July 20, 2014.
As you know, the conflict in Gaza has intensified. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the Israeli soldiers killed in action, with our brothers and sisters in Israeli, and with all who are in danger.
When the conflict began, the Reform Movement made a decision to join Stop the Sirens, a community-wide campaign, coordinated by Jewish Federations of North American (JFNA), to provide relief and support to the most heavily impacted Israeli communities. We did this rather than creating our own campaign to support our Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism (IMPJ) congregations and the vital work the IMPJ itself is doing because we thought it was important to show support for the larger communal effort.
The campaign has already allocated $8 million for “respite and relief.”
ARZA Chair Rabbi Bennett Miller is doing a great job representing our Movement on the JFNA Allocations Committee, assuring that the allocation reflect Reform Jewish values as well as Reform Movement interests.
This blog was originally posted on ReformJudaism.org on July 9, 2014.
By Rabbi Denise L. Eger
It has been a difficult time in Israel. I have been here in Eretz Yisrael for more than a week now, arriving just before they found the bodies of Eyal, Gilad, and Naftali. I was with several colleagues when the news of the discovery of their bodies came over the news, and it was a palpable moment that took our breath away.
Israel went into mourning. Jews from the right or left cried with their families. I was surprised how few cars were out in the streets. I was glued to watching the funeral and crying, too – and then, in the midst of mourning, a young Arab teen was burned alive. Retribution by a gang of Jewish thugs, it was cold-blooded murder. Read more…
How much evil can we bear in one short week?
It is with a sad and heavy heart that I share with you that the body of a 15-year-old boy, Muhammad Hussein Abu Khdeir, was found early this morning in Jerusalem. There are signs of much violence on his body. Right now, riots are breaking out in his neighborhood Shuafat in East Jerusalem. Last night, the streets of Jerusalem were lined with hundreds of rioters shouting “death to Arabs” and “revenge.” Read more…
When I opened my inbox this morning, I was struck by an email from Anat Hoffman regarding the tragic murder of three Israeli teenagers whose bodies were discovered yesterday. To speak to the heartbreak we all felt upon hearing the news of the boys’ deaths, Anat shared this poem, The Third Mother, written by Israeli poet Natan Alterman: Read more…
News broke a few hours ago that Israeli officials had discovered the bodies of missing Israeli teens Naftali Frenkel, Gilad Shaar, and Eyal Yifrach. Our hearts are broken by this devastating development.
Reform Movement voices from around the world have expressed their sadness at today’s news. To read statements from various entities within our Movement, click on the links below:
- Union for Reform Judaism (URJ)
- Association of Reform Zionists of America (ARZA)
- Central Conference of American Rabbis Statement (CCAR)
- Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR)
- World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ)
Jewish poet Alden Solovy wrote a powerful, painful Yizkor prayer titled “They Were Boys,” which congregations and Jewish communities may want to recite together this Shabbat in addition to Kaddish.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the three murdered teenagers and with all who yearn for peace. Zichronam l’ivracha — may their memories be for a blessing.
This week, on the eve of his retirement, Israeli President Shimon Peres visits DC, where he met with President Obama and yesterday was presented with the Congressional Gold Medal. The bill awarding him the medal received bipartisan support in the House and a unanimous vote in the Senate.
Shimon Peres was born in Poland in 1923 and immigrated to Israel at age eleven. Peres was educated in Tel Aviv, where he founded two kibbutzim, and was deeply involved on the Labor-Zionist movement. When Israel gained independence in 1948, David Ben Gurion, Peres’s political mentor, appointed him to a key leadership position with the Israeli army. In 1952 he was appointed deputy director-general of the Ministry of Defense, and he later served as director-general and deputy defense minister. In 1965 he resigned to join Ben-Gurion in founding a new opposition party, Rafi. This led to the establishment of the Israeli Labour Party, which he would later lead and through which he served as prime minister.
When Yitzhak Rabin became prime minister of Israel in July 1992, Peres became foreign minister, handling negotiations that led to the Oslo Accords between Israel and the PLO. After Rabin was assassinated in 1995, Peres succeeded him as prime minister. He decided not to seek reelection as leader of the Labour Party in 1997, but served as foreign minister, deputy prime minister, and vice prime minister. In 2007, Peres was elected president of Israel.
Today, at age 90, Peres is the last surviving member of Israel’s founding generation of politicians. He has played a key role in every major event in the nation’s history, from the Suez Canal crisis to the peace negotiations with Jordan, Egypt, and, as noted earlier, the Oslo peace accords, for which he was awarded a joint Nobel Peace Prize with Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat in 1994.
In 1996, Peres founded The Peres Center for Peace, with a mission to help build a sustainable infrastructure for peace, by and for people in the Middle East. In 2012, Peres was awarded the United States Presidential Medal of Freedom, honored by President Obama as “a warrior for peace,” who “teaches us to never settle for the world as it is.” Shimon Peres has authored eleven books, including David’s Sling, The New Middle East, and Battling for Peace; A Memoir. He is the first Israeli to receive this award, and he is one of only nine recipients of both the Congressional and Presidential Medals. The RAC joins the Jewish community in celebrating Shimon Peres and his lifetime of achievements.
Rebecca Fisher is a rising sophomore at Columbia University.
This series of FAQs from the Union for Reform Judaism can serve as a guide for congregations and leadership to discuss the Presbyterian Church (USA)’s recent vote to divest from certain companies doing business in and with Israel.
What happened last week in Detroit?
The Presbyterian Church (USA) met last week in Detroit, MI, for its annual General Assembly (GA). Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, spoke there in opposition to a number of resolutions that supported divestment from companies doing business in and with Israel.
What did Rabbi Jacobs say to the GA?
In his remarks in Detroit, Rabbi Jacobs spoke of the important relationships between many Reform congregations and Presbyterian churches. He spoke of the need for continued and strengthened efforts together and said to the Assembly, “You can choose partnership and engagement or you can choose separation and divestment.”