Tonight is the start of the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah! This past winter I visited Israel and the West Bank/Palestine. It was an amazing experience but I had mixed feelings to say the least. I’ve had a hard time articulating this or much of anything as you can see from my lack of posts!
But I was very inspired by this website: www.youngjewishproud.org
There’s a concern among Jewish people that not enough young adults are actively involved in Judaism. And there’s also a very strong push to support Israel and not speak out against the injustices the state commits against Palestinians.
These young people declare: they are for peace and justice, they are against the injustices against Palestinians, and they remember why they are proud to be Jewish.
Here’s the video of the declaration of Jewish Voice for Peace: Young Jewish Proud:
(You can also read it on their site.)
One thing that really stuck out to me was about remembering, especially: “We remember how to build our homes, and our holiness, out of time and thin air, and so do not need other people’s land to do so.”
I wasn’t raised Jewish but I have Jewish heritage. My grandfather on my father’s side was Jewish. For whatever reason, that has always been important to me, maybe more so than anybody else in my immediate family.
While traveling in Israel and Palestine I realized what was important to me about being Jewish has to do with two main things:
1. Remembering my ancestors who have survived and thrived as strangers in strange lands and
2. Pride in all the Jewish people who have been and are today leaders in so many areas, especially in expressions of truth through social justice and art.
The obsession with nationalism and land I encountered in Israel, didn’t have meaning to me. Certainly, the taking of other people’s land, persecution, oppression, lies, denial, and fear to speak the truth doesn’t represent Judaism to me.
At the same time, I will admit, I’ve been afraid to speak some truths myself! I’ve been having a lot of trouble writing. I’ve been worried how my words will be received or if I’ll be able to say things “the right way”.
Again some inspiration from these young people: last May I watched an interview on DemocracyNow.org about a girl who interrupted a speech by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. I loved what she, Rae Abileah, a Jewish-American activist of Israeli descent for Jewish Voice for Peace and Code Pink, had to say when she was interviewed about it.
Again you can also read the transcript on Democracy Now.
But I wasn’t sure how I felt about her interrupting the speech by shouting like that: it seemed maybe too rude and out of line. But I also wonder if maybe sometimes you have to sound rude and be out of line to make sure the truth is heard.
It puts in perspective my fear of not quite saying the right thing about my less high stakes subject matters like: my life and unschooling!
Having said all this about Jewish people, I have to say there are so many Christians, Muslims and non-religious people who are fighting for peace and justice in Isael and Palestine. And people want peace: I was so amazed how welcoming Palestinians, Muslim and Christian alike, were to me and my Jewish friends. I was also impressed by the number of helpful Christian organizations in the West Bank. I just think Jewish people hold a special responsibility since the state of Israel claims to act in their name.
Anyway, I am going to try to write more this coming year about all sorts of things. I think the year will be better and sweeter for it.
To a good and sweet year for everyone and may we all speak our truth as best we can: shanah tova umetukah!