21 July 2010

May It Be for the Good!

Historical context and literacy are everything for the continuation of Jewish life.  It's just another way of saying what the Sages figured out long, long ago:  Talmud Torah K'Neged Kulam--that the Study of Torah is Equal to All the Mitzvot.  What we do is what we know and what we know is what we do.


This has been true in conversations at the airport and online to buy a slice of pizza; it was true at the car rental place and true when I bought a couple cold beers late that other night on Shenkin Street.  It was true at my favorite sacred books store in Jerusalem and it was true at dinner with the Bronfman Youth Fellows on Shabbat.  It was true at the Arab-Jewish Cultural Center on Tisha B'Av where I watched my friend Sigal teach a class to Arab and Jewish dancers and it was true talking to some kids watching actors rehearse for a movie about a local soccer team in Gan Meir. 

How we walk and how we talk as Jews says everything about what we know or don't know about who we are.  And the effort we invest in that reality will determine the success or failure of our people to survive into another generation.  While this sounds like a platitude, it happens to be true.

We know the richness and wealth and depth of what we have inherited from the Jewish past; the question we always ought to be asking ourselves is:  have we contributed anything as worthy?

The older I get the more I realize the incredible strength and commitment required to build this state; the more admiring I am of a generation that had the ability to imagine certain utopias amidst dislocation.  I think the singularity of their accomplishment, the necessary focus they exercised, and what they wrought, ought still to be admired, despite the troubles and dilemmas that Israel currently faces.

So boycotts will come and go; American Jews will bring pressure to bear from the Diaspora to Jerusalem; and the result that will come will be a reflection of what we know and what we do.

May it be for the good!


Amanda said...

Interestingly, the update on Bunk1about Justin's trip said they spent part of the day visiting a cemetary (I forget which one) with many of the pioneers who built Israel. And then they talked about what they would have done differently or the same if they had been creating the country. I am sure they will come away from this trip with an undying love for the land and what it stands for.

Andy Bachman said...

My guess is that they visited the Kinneret Cemetery, a very special place. I'm sure Justin will come back with an even stronger connection to the place. See you soon.