Sunset in Tel Aviv
My wife Vickie landed in Tel Aviv a short while ago. She left a few days before I do so that, in her words, “I can have some alone time with our son before you get there, and all you will talk about is Rabbi stuff.”
Yes, our son Leo stepped away from a career as the successful founder and Principal of an inner city Oakland, CA, elementary school conceived to give the largely Latino and Black population of the neighborhood a high quality academic foundation. As Principal Leo continually urged his students to be in touch with and to affirm their cultural roots. At age 42 he made the decision to deepen ties to his cultural roots by beginning the five year full time studies program to become a Reform Rabbi. It is mandatory to spend the first year of that study at the Hebrew Union College in Jerusalem. His courses over the next four years will be in Los Angeles.
I look forward to joining Vickie in Israel where Pastor John Danner of Sanibel Congregational UCC church and I will lead a joint tour for our two congregations. As it turned out twenty Jews and twenty Christians registered for the trip.
I so look forward to showing them the Israel I love.
That said, Israel is a complex place. With hostile neighbors on each side, its security concerns are beyond anything most of us in North America can imagine.
Does that make everything Israel does in the name of security just, right and consistent with our religious values as freedom loving Americans today?
My personal answer is, “No it does not.”
But that is a much easier question for me to answer from the safety of Sanibel than it is for the residents of Sderot near the Gaza border.
That is why it means so much to me to help facilitate the opportunity for our congregants to see Israel first hand.
But security and the complex political situation of today are hardly the only reasons I am eager for this trip.
Israel — with a history that goes back to the Bible and technological advances that are blazing a trail into the future — is a marvel of modern civilization. But it is also a society of many complex contradictions, a society that we can begin to understand only when we see it with our own eyes.
I eagerly look forward to embracing those contradictions once again.