Judah HaLevi said it best: “My heart is in the east but I am in the west.”That is exactly how I feel when I watch the war in Israel on television or read about it in the paper. I pray for the day that rockets are no longer fired into Israel and that no more innocent civilians are killed. I pray for Hamas to be destroyed and a viable peace partner to come to the forefront. I pray for the safety of the soldiers and of volunteers who risk their lives to bring food, water and supplies into the heat of battle. I pray each and every day for a cease fire and for an eventual peace.
As we begin the Book of Deuteronomy, I cant help but think about what Moses felt being so close to the Land of Israel yet so far away at the same time. Moses begged to enter the land but no no avail. As the Book of Deuteronomy begins, “These are the words which Moses spoke unto all Israel beyond the Jordan; in the wilderness.” Moses wanted to be in the Promised Land yet he was separated by the Jordan River. Similarly, I long to be in the Land of Israel, the Jewish homeland, but I am separated by the Atlantic Ocean.
The war has in part impelled me to begin planning a congregational mission to Israel, to take place in Winter 2015. I want to return to this land with such a rich history, where Hebrew is spoken every day and where people courageously progress in their lives each and every day. I want to return to this rich tapestry of cultures and religions, a land where I am at home for being a Jew yet which numerous Christians, Muslims, Bedouins and Druze also call their home. It has been 5 years since I was last in Israel, and I am ready to return and to lead a group to this wonderfully rich country, the homeland of the Jewish people. Israel needs our support more now than ever. I applaud those who are continuing to take trips to Israel this summer and look forward to my return to this wonderful country of survivors-those who persevere in the face of terror and continue to live life with such meaning and richness.
May the coming week bring a calming of the violence.