[Photo by Peter Marcus]
Jerusalem, itself on a mountain, is made up of a series of mountains. On top of each mountain is an important symbol sacred to a religion or people. Taken together, these multiple symbols represent perhaps the most significant city in world history.
Har Habayit – The Mountain of God’s House, also known as Har Moriah – The Mountain of ‘Sight’ is, of course, the most sacred place in Judaism. Legend teaches that the dust that formed the first human being, Adam, was gathered here, and this mountain top is the place on which Abraham bound his son Isaac. It is here that King Solomon built the First Temple and King Harod built the Second Temple.
Har Habayit- Har Moriah is the gateway between heaven and earth, the umbilicus through which the milk of Torah flows from the Divine breast to the children of Israel, where there is Divine sight and insight.
This most ancient of Jewish mountains is claimed by Islam as its third most sacred site after Mecca and Medina. Muslims call it Haram al Sharif – The Noble Sanctuary where Quran says Mohammed ascended to heaven.
On another small mountain is the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, now shared in a delicate and sensitive balance among Armenian, Greek Orthodox, Coptic, Roman Catholic, Syrian, and Ethiopian Christians because Jesus was crucified there.
To the east is Har Hazeitim – the Mountain of Olives at the foot of which is the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus prayed and his disciples slept the night before their Lord’s crucifixion.
Har Hazeitim contains the most holy Jewish cemetery in the world, the closest burial ground to the “The Golden Gate” of Jerusalem that was sealed by the 16th century Ottoman Qalif, Suleiman the Magnificent, because he feared that the Jewish Messiah would pass into the holy city through this gate in the end of days. Jews have been burying our dead on the Mountain of Olives for centuries so their souls would be close and ready to follow the Mashiach (“Messiah”).
Just south of the Old City walls is Har Tziyon – Mount Zion from where the prophets Isaiah (2:3) and Micah (4:2) said that Torah and God’s word came into the world. For Christians, Jesus and his disciples celebrated the Last Supper here.
A few miles west is yet another mountain made sacred by Zionism and the State of Israel, Har Herzl, on which is built the military cemetery for those who died in the defense of the state and the nation’s leaders. Har Herzl is walking distance from Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust Memorial and Museum.
Jerusalem has been conquered thirty-four times since the age of David. It is arguably the most famous and fought over real estate in the world. It is a city of the in-between. It embraces old and new, past and present, east and west, reason and faith, earth and heaven, this world and the world to come, imperfection and messianic dreams, temporal and divine power. It has been and remains the symbol of a history of intensely competing interests.
Israel celebrates “Jerusalem Day” this Sunday, May 12 (28 Iyar), marking 50 years since Israel reunified the city after the 1967 Six-Day War. Though Jerusalem has rarely known peace, it is an enduring symbol of our people’s yearning for peace nevertheless.
What is to become of this sacred city for so many going forward? Most Israelis don’t want it ever divided again. For the past 50 years Israel has maintained the peace and security of Jerusalem and free access for peoples of all faiths to the city’s holy sites. Yet, distrust and hatred fills still too many hearts and pollutes too many minds. Spitting and shoving, vandalizing and threats, provocation and incitement, violence and murder continue despite efforts by Israeli security to prevent it.
The problems that continue are compounded by the absence of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. East Jerusalem’s Palestinian Arabs, non-citizens of Israel who live under Israeli military rule, do not share equal rights with Israeli citizens, nor is their property necessarily respected by Israeli military law and ultra-Orthodox Jewish squatters who use every opportunity to occupy Arab homes.
Two different sets of law are enforced and non-Israeli citizens almost always come up short.
In the coming weeks, the United States will formally move its Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in a controversial decision taken by President Trump that shook the Arab world. Yet, Jerusalem is the people and State of Israel’s capital city. Its government buildings, the Prime Minister’s and President’s residences are there.
For Israel’s sake as a Jewish and democratic state and for the sake of the Palestinians the status quo is unsustainable, and if Jerusalem is to be the beacon of and symbol for peace throughout the world, it will take our two peoples, Israeli and Palestinian, every ounce of courage, patience, creativity, understanding, and mutual respect to make it happen.
I believe, despite the deep distrust and hostility that there is a solution, but that will take the willingness to compromise and accommodate the needs of the “other” not as some kumbaya liberal dream, but for the sake of peace, security, the survival of and the dignity of all peoples.
My friend and Israeli Reform Rabbi Michael (Micky) Boyden writes another must read piece about the current Gaza war:
“Reading what Beinart has to say, one would have thought that Israel was living alongside a harmless neighbor not intent upon her destruction. He seems to have forgotten that we are at war.”
Everything I wrote this morning is true, but there is much more to the equation. This isn’t only a matter about the current tensions and the Friday demonstrations, it’s about the horrible conditions of life in Gaza and how it came to be that way.
Peter Beinart writes in his must-read article in The Forward about all of this – “American Jews Have Abandoned Gaza – And the Truth”.
Notes: When the shootings of Gazans by IDF forces began several weeks ago, I wrote a blog calling into question the deaths of unarmed Palestinians. Since that day several more attempts by Gazans to breech the fence on Israel’s border on successive Fridays have occurred and, as Haaretz’s Amos Harel reports below, 44 Palestinians have been killed so far with many hundreds injured.
Since many of you do not subscribe to Haaretz (which I recommend) I am reprinting Harel’s most recent report below.
Before you read it, I want to say the following:
First – These demonstrations are controlled by Hamas. They are not peaceful. Many of those breeching the fence are Hamas fighters/terrorists and are armed. Unarmed Palestinians are being used as human shields, a war crime.
Second – Israelis are legitimately terrified that thousands of Gazans will enter Israel and attack Israelis. They want the IDF to protect them even as many Israelis regret the loss of innocent Palestinian lives.
Third – Israel is being portrayed in the international media as over-reacting. I do not believe this is true. Given what Harel reports, Israel has a security challenge and is behaving as responsibly as possible.
Fourth – Gaza shares a border with Egypt, but Hamas is not attacking that border. Why? Because Hamas wants to destroy Israel – not Egypt – and strategically uses every Friday to draw Israeli fire and thereby deliberately cause Palestinian causalities for all the world to see and to draw conclusions based on partial truths.
Fifth – As I said in my first blog on these recent events, we sitting here in America cannot second guess Israeli soldiers in the field in the midst of combat. The IDF has a clear ethical code in war known as “Tohar Haneshek” (lit. “Purity of Arms”) and according to Harel’s report, soldiers have been ordered to shoot at the legs and not with the intent to kill. That so many Palestinians have been killed is a tragic unintended consequence of war.
Sixth – Much of the blame for what is taking place on the Gaza border has to be laid at the feet of Hamas that has spent a fortune of money it receives from the UNRWA over the years to build a network of tunnels to attack Israel while not spending that relief money to build schools and hospitals and to rebuild apartment buildings destroyed in past Gaza wars.
Seventh – Israel has for years sent hundreds of trucks daily into Gaza filled with food and medical supplies. That truth has been ignored by most media and is unknown to most people in the west. I do not know whether these trucks are still driving into Gaza since the fighting began, but the world ought to know that Israeli trucks have provided badly needed provisions to Gazans who are suffering under a brutal Hamas regime. It also needs to be known that Israel has for some time established emergency medical camps just inside the Israeli border near Gaza and near Syria to give emergency treatment to Palestinians and Syrians in need.
And eighth – We Diaspora Jews need to give Israel the benefit of the doubt. Blaming Israel for the situation in Gaza is unfair and not truthful.
Here is Harel’s report today in Haaretz – a link to the article is at the conclusion:
He says legs are being targeted, but in some cases the protester bent over, a sniper missed or a bullet ricocheted ■ Friday’s attempt to breach fence was most violent yet, the officer adds
Apr 29, 2018 2:17 PM
Most of the Israeli army’s killings of Palestinians during the Gaza-border protests have resulted from snipers aiming at demonstrators’ legs, with the killings an unintentional outcome after a protester bent down, a sniper missed, a bullet ricocheted or a similar phenomenon, a senior officer in the Southern Command said.
The Israeli army has killed 44 protesters since March 30; it cites its efforts to prevent a breach of the border fence as Gazans demonstrate in their “March of Return” each Friday.
The officer told Haaretz that open-fire directives on the border only let snipers shoot at the legs of people approaching the border, and that a person’s chest may be targeted only amid the other side’s apparent intent to use weapons and threaten Israelis’ lives.
The officer, who was with Israeli forces at the fence Friday, said the demonstrators’ attempt to breach the barrier marked the most violent action by the Gaza Palestinians since their fence protests began.
Four Palestinians were killed by crowd-control methods and sniper fire, including a 15-year-old boy, and hundreds were wounded. Most of the casualties occurred in one incident near the Karni crossing toward the end of the day, when hundreds of Palestinians breached the barbed-wire fence that the army had installed inside the Gaza Strip. Dozens of protesters reached the border itself.
The officer said it seemed the protesters were acting according to a decently organized plan. The crowd bypassed the Karni crossing from the south and moved toward the border, led by young men using pieces of barbed wire and makeshift winches to try to dismantle the barbed-wire fence blocking their way to the border.
Those who managed to cross the barbed-wire fence attacked the border fence itself with firebombs and explosives.
The army says that its crowd-control methods don’t do well in large open areas, and that the commanders had no alternative but live sniper fire to stop the incursions.
According to the officer, the latest protest shows that Hamas’ leaders completely control the scene and that the clashes are planned and managed from above. He said the Palestinians were intentionally sending children, women, disabled people and the mentally ill toward the fence.
Author David Grossman, whose son Uri was killed in the 2006 Lebanon War and who on Thursday will be awarded the 2018 Israel Prize for Literature, addressed bereaved Israelis and Palestinians at an alternative Memorial Day event on April 17, 2018. Below is the full text of his speech.
“Dear friends, good evening.
There is a lot of noise and commotion around our ceremony, but we do not forget that above all, this is a ceremony of remembrance and communion. The noise, even if it is present, is beyond us now, because at the heart of this evening there is a deep silence — the silence of the void created by loss.
My family and I lost Uri in the war, a young, sweet, smart and funny man. Almost twelve years later it is still hard for me to talk about him publicly.
The death of a loved one is actually also the death of a private, whole, personal and unique culture, with its own special language and its own secret, and it will never be again, nor will there be another like it.
It is indescribably painful to face that decisive ‘no.’ There are moments when it almost sucks into it all the ‘have’ and all the ‘yes.’ It is difficult and exhausting to constantly fight against the gravity of loss.
It is difficult to separate the memory from the pain. It hurts to remember, but it is even more frightening to forget. And how easy it is, in this situation, to give in to hate, rage, and the will to avenge.
But I find that every time I am tempted by rage and hate, I immediately feel that I am losing the living contact with my son. Something there is sealed. And I came to my decision, I made my choice. And I think that those who are here this evening — made that same choice.
And I know that within the pain there is also breath, creation, doing good. That grief does not isolate but also connects and strengthens. Here, even old enemies — Israelis and Palestinians — can connect with each other out of grief, and even because of it.
I have met quite a few bereaved families over these past years. I told them, in my experience, that even when you are at the heart of the pain you should remember that every member of the family is allowed to grieve the way they want, the way they are, and the way their soul tells them to.
No one can instruct another person how to grieve. It’s true for a private family, and it’s true for the larger ‘bereaved family.’
There is a strong feeling that connects us, a feeling of a joint fate, and the pain that only we know, for which there are almost no words out there, in the light. That is why, if the definition of a ‘bereaved family’ is genuine and honest, please respect our way. It deserves respect. It is not an easy path, it is not obvious, and it is not without its internal contradictions. But it is our way to give meaning to the death of our loved ones, and to our lives after their death. And it is our way to act, to do — not to despair and not to desist — so that one day, in the future, the war will fade, and maybe cease completely, and we will start living, living a full life, and not just subsisting from war to war, from disaster to disaster.
We, Israelis and Palestinians, who in the wars between us have lost those dearer to us, perhaps, than our own lives — we are doomed to touch reality through an open wound. Those wounded like that can no longer foster illusions. Those wounded like that know how much life is made up of great concessions, of endless compromise.
I think that grief makes us, those who are here tonight into more realistic people. We are clear-eyed, for example, about things relating to the limits of power, relating to the illusions that always accompany the one with the power.
And we are warier, more than we were before the disaster, and are filled with loathing every time we recognize a display of empty pride, or slogans of arrogant nationalism, or leaders’ haughty statements. We are more than wary: we are practically allergic. This week, Israel is celebrating 70 years. I hope we will celebrate many more years and many more generations of children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, who will live here alongside an independent Palestinian state, safely, peacefully and creatively, and — most importantly — in a serene daily routine, in good neighborliness; and they will feel at home here.
What is a home?
Home is a place whose walls — borders — are clear and accepted; whose existence is stable, solid, and relaxed; whose inhabitants know its intimate codes; whose relations with its neighbors have been settled. It projects a sense of the future.
And we Israelis, even after 70 years — no matter how many words dripping with patriotic honey will be uttered in the coming days — we are not yet there. We are not yet home. Israel was established so that the Jewish people, who have nearly never felt at-home-in-the-world, would finally have a home. And now, 70 years later, strong Israel may be a fortress, but it is not yet a home.
The solution to the great complexity of Israeli-Palestinian relations can be summed up in one short formula: if the Palestinians don’t have a home, the Israelis won’t have a home either.
The opposite is also true: if Israel will not be a home, then neither will Palestine.
I have two granddaughters, they are 6 and 3 years old. To them, Israel is self-evident. It is obvious to them that we have a state, that there are roads and schools and hospitals and a computer at kindergarten, and a living, rich Hebrew language.
I belong to a generation where none of these things are taken for granted, and that is the place from which I speak to you. From the fragile place that vividly remembers the existential fear, as well as the strong hope that now, finally, we have come home.
But when Israel occupies and oppresses another nation, for 51 years, and creates an apartheid reality in the occupied territories — it becomes a lot less of a home.
And when Minister of Defense Lieberman decides to prevent peace-loving Palestinians from attending a gathering like ours, Israel is less of a home.
When Israeli snipers kill dozens of Palestinian protesters, most of them civilians — Israel is less of a home.
And when the Israeli government attempts to improvise questionable deals with Uganda and Rwanda, and is willing to endanger the lives of thousands of asylum seekers and expel them to the unknown — to me, it is less of a home.
And when the prime minister defames and incites against human rights organizations, and when he is looking for ways to enact laws that bypass the High Court of Justice, and when democracy and the courts are constantly challenged, Israel becomes even a little less of a home —for everyone.
When Israel neglects and discriminates against residents on the fringes of society; when it abandons and continuously weakens the residents of southern Tel Aviv; when it hardens its heart to the plight of the weak and voiceless — Holocaust survivors, the needy, single-parent families, the elderly, boarding houses for children removed from their homes, and crumbling hospitals — it is less of a home. It is a dysfunctional home.
And when it neglects and discriminates against 1.5 million Palestinian citizens of Israel; when it practically forfeits the great potential they have for a shared life here — it is less of a home — both for the minority and the majority.
And when Israel strips away the Jewishness of millions of Reform and Conservative Jews — again it becomes less of a home. And every time artists and creators have to prove — in their creations — loyalty and obedience, not only to the state but to the ruling party — Israel is less of a home.
Israel is painful for us. Because it is not the home we want it to be. We acknowledge the great and wonderful thing that happened to us, by having a state, and we are proud of its accomplishments in many areas, in industry and agriculture, in culture and art, in I.T. and medicine and economics. But we also feel the pain of its distortion.
And the people and organizations who are here today, especially the Family Forum and Combatants For Peace, and many more like them, are perhaps the ones who contribute most to making Israel a home, in the fullest sense of the word.
And I want to say here, that half of the money from the Israel Prize that I will be receiving the day after tomorrow, I intend to donate and divide between the Family Forum and the Elifelet organization, which looks after the children of asylum seekers — those whose kindergartens are nicknamed “children’s warehouses”. To me, these are groups who do sacred work, or rather — do the simply human things that the government itself should be doing.
Where we will live a peace and safe life; a clear life; a life that will not be enslaved — by fanatics of all kinds — for the purposes of some total, messianic, and nationalist vision. Home, whose inhabitants will not be the material that ignites a principle greater than them, and supposedly beyond their comprehension. That life in it would be measured in its humanity. That suddenly a nation will wake up in the morning, and see that it is human. And that that human will feel that he is living in an uncorrupted, connected, truly egalitarian, non-aggressive and non-covetous place. In a state that runs simply on the concern for the person living within it, for every person living within it, out of compassion, and out of tolerance for all the many dialectics of ‘being Israeli’. Because ‘These are the living words of Israel’.
A state that will act, not on momentary impulses; not in endless convulsions of tricks and winks and manipulations; and police investigations, and zig-zags, and flip-flops backwards. In general — I wish our government to be less devious and wiser. One can dream. One can also admire achievements. Israel is worth fighting for. I also wish these things for our Palestinian friends: a life of independence, freedom and peace, and building a new, reformed nation. And I wish that in 70 years’ time our grandchildren and great-grandchildren, both Palestinian and Israeli, will stand here and each will sing their version of their national anthem.
But there is one line that they will be able to sing together, in Hebrew and Arabic: “To be a free nation in our land,” and then maybe, at last, it will be a realistic and accurate description, for both nations.”
Palestinians are now marching with the intent to enter Israel through the Gaza fence every Friday until May 15 corresponding to the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the State of Israel and to their “Naqba” (The Great Catastrophe). They have done this twice already.
The first week’s demonstration included about thirty thousand Palestinians. Despite the demonstrations being billed as non-violent protests, some Palestinians (stirred up by Hamas) threw rocks at Israeli soldiers and set fire to tires thereby obscuring the view with smoke for Israeli shooters to see the perpetrators of violence. Israeli commanders told their shooters to fire warning shots in the air, then shoot in the dirt, and finally at Palestinian legs. Israeli snipers killed between 15 and 20 Palestinians and injured close to 1400.
On the second Friday there were fewer protestors, perhaps between ten and twenty thousand. The Palestinians called it a “Day of Tires” (note the photo of the massive amount of smoke). Israeli shooters killed nine Palestinians, including one journalist wearing a journalist vest.
To date, about thirty Palestinians are dead.
What’s going on? Israel has a right to defend itself but the death of unarmed Palestinians ought to be of great concern to all Jews in Israel and around the world.
The Israeli human rights organization B’tzelem called upon Israeli soldiers to defy orders to shoot unarmed Palestinians. All Israeli political parties refrained from protesting Israel’s actions except the Arab list and the left-wing Zionist party Meretz. Israel’s Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman charged that “Meretz has stopped representing the State of Israel and now represents Arab interests in the Knesset.”
What disturbs me is that Israelis and we American Jews have become so numbed to violence of this kind that we refrain from protesting the deaths of innocent Palestinians. We would not so refrain if the dead were Israelis.
Again, we don’t know if the shootings are wrong and we don’t know how difficult it is for the IDF to monitor the border, but B’tzelem isn’t wrong to encourage Israeli soldiers to refrain from firing on unarmed people even if they are ordered to do so. There are lots of other means of crowd control available to Israel than shooting with live ammunition.
Is Israel’s sense of the threat these Palestinian protests pose exaggerated? It may be that the shootings are meant to discourage future non-violent Palestinian demonstrations because the Israeli government doesn’t quite know how to handle them.
The Israeli Defense Forces have the duty to protect the State of Israel, but is the IDF doing it the right way? In Israel, there’s an ethical code that encourages soldiers not to follow unethical orders, and especially when orders are given to fire on unarmed Palestinians.
I would hope that every Palestinian killing is investigated by the IDF and if wrong-doing is discovered, those guilty are punished.
This is an important article not only because it profiles Rabbi Rick Jacobs, the President of the American Reform movement so well, but it articulates the progressive liberal Zionism that is the hallmark of Reform Judaism. The American Reform movement represents about 1.5 million American Jews.
This is an important read, and I hope you will take the time to read it.
The Lonely Man of Faith, New York Magazine
Abraham Riesman profiles Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism.
Nas Daily is a Facebook and Instagram site with a charming young Palestinian Israeli man (age 25) who has enmassed more than 5 million followers, and growing.
He posts his videos every day for 1 minute as he travels all over the world. He recently bought an apartment in Rawabi (a new Palestinian complex north of Ramallah) and in Israel and invited anyone of his followers to stay in either one free of charge. There is a bed in each apartment and that’s it.
Nas is smart, brave, kind, charismatic, and wise – way beyond his years.
Put him on your Facebook page – you will not regret it and if you watch him daily, you have at least one minute of joy that day.
The following is his longest post ever (4 minutes) and when you watch it, you’ll understand why. This segment is in a Haredi Jerusalem neighborhood.
Nas is a peacemaker – I love him and hope to meet him one day.
Nas – if you read this, contact me!!!!
My son Daniel’s friend (his parents are Israeli) turned me onto him – and I now hope you will wait for Nas’s posts every day. They are well worth it.
My book by the above title was first published in October, I wanted to offer it again. Here are the endorsements for the book on the book jacket. You can also check out what readers have said at amazon.com. This is not only for millennials, but for their parents and grandparents.
“John Rosove does what so many of us have struggled to do, and does it brilliantly: He makes the case for liberal Judaism to his children. As Rosove shows, liberal Judaism is choice-driven, messy, and always evolving, “traditional” in some ways and “radical” in others. It is also optimistic, spiritual, and progressive in both personal and political ethics. Without avoiding the hard stuff, such as intermarriage and Israel, Rabbi Rosove weaves all of these strands together to show the deep satisfactions of living and believing as a liberal Jew. All serious Jews, liberal or otherwise, should read this book.” —- Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie is President Emeritus of the Union for Reform Judaism and a regular columnist for the Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz.
“Rabbi John Rosove addresses his intellectual and well-reasoned investigation of faith to his own sons, which sets this book apart for its candor and its ability to penetrate not only the mind but also the heart.” — Matthew Weiner is a writer, director, producer, and the creator of the AMC television drama series Mad Men and he is noted for his work as a writer and producer on the HBO drama series The Sopranos and earned nine Primetime Emmy Awards Matthew has received nine Primetime Emmy Awards.
“Rabbi John Rosove gets it. Here is a religious leader not afraid to tell it like it is, encapsulating for his audience the profound disaffection so many young Jews feel towards their heritage. But instead of letting them walk away, he makes a powerful case for the relevance of tradition in creating meaningful lives. In our technology-saturated, attention-absorbing age, Rosove offers religion-as-reprieve, his fresh vision of a thoroughly modern, politically-engaged and inclusive Judaism.” —-Danielle Berrin is a columnist and cover-story journalist for the Los Angeles Jewish Journal. She is known for her Hollywood Jew blog, has appeared as a commentator on CNN and MSNBC, and published work for The Guardian, British Esquire, and The Atlantic.
“Rabbi Rosove has written a wonderful book, a love letter to his children, and through them, to all our children. Prodigiously knowledgeable, exceedingly wise, and refreshingly honest, Rabbi Rosove has described why Judaism matters. It should serve as a touching testament of faith, spanning the generations for generations to come.” —-Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch is Senior Rabbi of Stephen Wise Free Synagogue, New York City and is the co-author of One People, Two Worlds: A Reform rabbi and an Orthodox rabbi explore the issues that divide them with Rabbi Yaakov Yosef Reinman.
“Rabbi Rosove’s letters to his sons are full of Talmudic tales and practical parables, ancient wisdom with modern relevance, spiritual comfort, and intellectual provocation. Whether his subject is faith, love, intermarriage, success, Jewish continuity or the creation of a meaningful legacy, you’ll find yourself quoting lines from this beautiful book long after you’ve reached its final blessing.” —- Letty Cottin Pogrebin is a writer, speaker, social justice activist, and author of eleven books including Deborah, Golda, and Me: Being Female & Jewish in America and Single Jewish Male Seeking Soul Mate. She is also a founding editor of Ms. Magazine, is a regular columnist for Moment Magazine.
“Rabbi John Rosove has given a gift to all of us who care about engaging the next generation in Jewish life. The letters to his sons are really love-letters from countless voices of Jewish wisdom across history to all those young people who are seeking purpose in their lives. From wrestling with God, to advocating for peace and justice in Israel and at home, and living a life of purpose, this book is a compelling case for the joy of being Jewish.” —Rabbi Jonah Pesner, is the Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism in Washington, D.C and is Senior Vice President of the Union for Reform Judaism.
“If you’re a fellow Reform millennial, give yourself the gift of John’s insights. This book is written in a breezy, gentle, readable style that is welcoming without losing sharp insight. It makes an even better case for Judaism than challah. It was so enjoyable and refreshing to read and persuasive without ever being pushy. Rosove managed to do what only a truly worthy slice of kugel or chance viewing of Fiddler has done for me: reactivate my sense of wonder and gratitude about being Jewish. I am a huge WJM fan.” —-Jen Spyra is a staff comedy writer on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert (CBS) and formerly was a senior writer for The Onion.
“John Rosove’s letters to his sons based on his life, philosophy, and rabbinic work address what it means to be a liberal and ethical Jew and a lover of Israel in an era when none are automatic. He writes in an unassuming personal style steeped in traditional texts as he confronts conflicts of faith and objectivity, Zionist pride and loving criticism of the Jewish state, traditional observance and religious innovation. He is never gratuitous and invites his readers into his family conversation because what he says is applicable to us all.” —-Susan Freudenheim is the Executive Director of Jewish World Watch, was formerly the Managing Editor of the Los Angeles Jewish Journal and an editor at the Los Angeles Times.
“Rabbi John Rosove has written a book of the utmost importance for our time. It is an imperative read for all those who struggle with the changing and evolving attitudes towards belonging, behavior and belief. His analysis, stemming from deeply personal contemplation and decades of rabbinic experience, offers clear yet sophisticated approaches to tackling the challenges facing this generation and those to come. This book offers a treasure of wisdom through the lens of Jewish texts – both ancient and modern – which help to frame life’s major issues taking the reader from the particular to the universal. Israel is one of the most complicated of issues tackled in this volume and his chapter on Israel bridges the divide between Israel’s critics and staunch supporters offering a comforting approach to those who are deeply at odds with Israel and offers and important opportunity for a shift in our basic narrative. Moving beyond the conversation of crisis is critical for the millennial generation.” —-Rabbi Josh Weinberg is President of the Association of Reform Zionists of America and is a leading young voice in world-wide Zionist politics and affairs.