Zeek: Thank you all for joining us. The central issue I want to look at is how we relate to Israel as American Jews, in American communities and congregations and schools. The first question I want to throw out is, do any of you have experiences working in a community where your own relationship with Israel isn't mirrored by those you're working with?
Schiller: As I mentioned, I teach in a Modern Orthodox high school. The mood there is decidedly in line with the Israeli right, and has been since '67 war. My own perspective, favoring a two-state solution, is not that of the community in which I teach. The community in which I live, the Haredi community, is largely indifferent to these issues except to the degree that they share deep fear of Palestinians and of the gentile world in general.
...Angel: My experience is in some ways similar to Rabbi Schiller's, although from the other side. I'm in the Bay Area in San Francisco; this is the first time in my life I've been surrounded by so many Jews who developed a Jewish identity post-'67. By and large they're from secular backgrounds; they've felt marginalized by the mainstream for all sorts of reasons, and are deeply suspicious of mainstream ideas--and being pro-Israel is largely a mainstream idea.
Earlier this year, I had the honor of facilitating a round-table discussion in which Rabbis Camille Angel, Lynn Gottlieb, Fred Guttman and Meyer Schiller discussed the impact of Israel on their rabbinates. That discussion has now been published over at Zeek.
The panel of rabbis that we assembled spans a few different gamuts. Rabbi Schiller is a ba'al teshuva and a Hasid who works in the Orthodox world, while Rabbis Angel and Guttman were ordained Reform. Rabbi Guttman used to serve in a combat artillery brigade in Israel, while Rabbi Gottlieb is co-founder of the Muslim-Jewish Peace Walk. (And so on.) Our conversation was fascinating, thoughtful, and often surprising. Given that I've been wrestling with my own relationship to Israel, and how it might impact my rabbinate, this conversation was thought-provoking and fruitful for me. I hope it was for the participants, too.
You can read it here: The Synagogue/Israeli Politics Mashup. And if you have thoughts in response, please feel free to let me know, either via commenting on this blog post, or via commenting on the round-table article itself.