Leaving a Mark Upon Israel and Allowing it to Leave Its Mark On You

1 Nov

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By Rabbi Judy Schindler

There are times when we read newspaper stories of Israel and we feel either frustrated at her actions or beam with pride at her accomplishments.  When we finally arrive to this land of our dreams we have several options for our journey.  We can passively experience the powerful sites of our homeland or we can actively touch and be touched by what we see. The famous Israeli writer Amos Oz wrote:

The Land of Israel is not a museum of God. No place is a museum of God, no person and no inanimate object is a thing of worship. It is permissible to both touch and change the things on the condition that you yourself are prepared to be touched and changed. You come to a place – a hill, the desert, a spring, a house…You change it and you make your mark upon it but, it is also important to be open and give it the opportunity to leave its mark on you.

As the sun set on Jerusalem Thursday night, a group of thirty of us (including five rabbis and one cantor) stood at Montefiore Plaza overlooking the Old City and read this poem.  Tonight our group kicked off a mission to celebrate Women of Wall’s 25th Anniversary and to support pluralism in Israel.  On Sunday, our mission will swell to over 100 including twenty eight clergy (with one brave male rabbi). On Monday, we will stand with many more hundreds at the Western Wall praying and working to influence Israeli leaders inspiring them to make Israel into a country that embraces the diversity of Jewish expressions and prayers. We will stand with the Women of the Wall who for twenty five years have battled for the right for women to pray together in talit and tefillin and to chant from the Sefer Torah.  Their decades of labor are finally yielding fruits as it seems that after all these years a compromise solution is close at hand.  We will learn more about this from Natan Sharansky and from Anat Hoffman, Chair of Women of the Wall, in the coming days.

It is not enough to be touched by Israel but we must touch it. It is not enough to be moved by Israel but we must move it to become the holiest of holies that it can be.

 

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