So much has already been written about the past summer in Israel, the kidnap and murder of our three teens, nonstop missiles firing into Israel, tunnels, terrorism and the double standards of the international media.
It is almost four months since it began. Only last week, while I was listening to a fascinating presentation about Israel and heard the presenter say that she lost her naivety, I was able to admit that I lost mine as well. She spoke my thoughts and feelings. I lost the most important reason for my hope. Seeing the media showing only one side of the conflict, ignoring facts, coloring Israel in dark colors made me feel and think that maybe it’s not just an Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but an Arab-Jewish conflict or more than that.
The naive idea that reality is reality is reality and every one can see it as it is exploded in my face. I can’t expect everyone who lives thousands of miles away from the conflict to be aware of all the details and history, but I do expect that if someone wants to voice his opinion and give suggestions to the Israelis or Palestinians, they should learn more and no, watching CNN or other news channels for a week doesn’t make anyone an expert on the Middle East.
The reality is that I don’t have the luxury of giving up the hope for peace.
The Ukrainian-born Israeli Orthodox poet Zelda Schneersohn-Mishkovsky, better known simply as Zelda (1914-1984), belonged to a lineage of illustrious rabbis. Her father, Shelomoh Shalom Schneersohn, descended from the prominent Schneersohn dynasty of Chabad Hasidic masters, and was the uncle of the late Lubavitch Rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneerson (1902-1994). Her mother, Rachel Hen, was a descendant of the famed Sephardic dynasty of Hen-Gracian, which traces its roots to 11th century Barcelona.
Her poem, “Two Elements,” reflects the two elements in life, physical and spiritual, which don’t always come together. As the new Jewish year starts, I hope you all find the balance between them and use them for growth.
The flame says to the cypress:
“When I see how calm,
how full of pride you are,
something inside me goes wild —
How can one live this awesome life
without a touch of madness,
with only a grim, ancient pride?
If I could, I would burn down
that we call the seasons,
along with your cursed dependence
on earth and air and sun,
on rain and dew.”
The cypress does not answer.
He knows there is madness in him,
But the flame will not understand,
the flame will not believe.
New Torah — In these days, when we hear and witness anti-Semitism, and Jews in certain places around the world can’t celebrate their Judaism openly, it was very energizing to attend the beautiful genuine simcha (celebration) of the new Torah at Congregation Chofetz Chayim. It was especially moving when Rabbi Israel Backer dedicated the writing of one of the last letters to my beloved late father, Ehud Yehuda Yosef z”l.
Firefighters — It’s been almost a year since seven firefighters went on a mission to Israel to study how Israelis deal with mass casualty events and to get to know Israel and Israelis better. Last week I met three firefighters who would love to be on the second mission to Israel. We hope we can send another mission next year.
Open house — It would be my pleasure and honor to host you and your family as our ushpizin (guests) in my family’s sukkah for the Shlicha’s Open House. Delicious food, great company, a colorful and welcoming sukkah and the remembrance of the journey of the Israelites will certainly make for a beautiful evening. I hope you will be able to attend this festive event open to our entire Jewish and non-Jewish community. RSVP to [email protected] and the address will be sent to you.
Oshrat Barel is Tucson’s community shlicha (Israeli emissary) and director of the Weintraub Israel Center.