Some of you have never been to Israel. Some of you haven’t been in decades – before the high tech boom and skyscrapers, before the separation barrier and check points, before the birth of a movement of soulful and uplifting Israeli spiritual communities and secular batei midrash (schools of Jewish text study) where reading Talmud alongside Plato and Israeli political hip-hop lyrics is common place. Some of you have never sat face-to-face with a Jewish Israeli or with a Palestinian sipping botz (literally ‘mud’, the thick, dark, sweet coffee made in a finjan with a dash of cardamom), discovering who they are beyond headlines. Some of you have never stood on the ruins of a 2,000 year old synagogue while a garbage collector wearing a kippah drives by on the back of a truck – simultaneous ancient Jewish past and normalized Jewish present.
The DJC is planning a community trip to Israel. Are you coming?
I encourage you to consider coming along because this is an enriching and inspiring opportunity for the growth of a robust Jewish identity and connection to the wider Jewish people – including Mizrachi, Sephardic, and Ethiopian Jews, and Jews of different class backgrounds – faces of Jewish life many of us who are Ashkenazi Jews don’t encounter often in Toronto. And if you are not Jewish, this is a fruitful and fascinating way to gain fuller understanding of Jewish peoplehood.
I encourage you to consider coming along because this is valuable in discovering vibrant models of Jewish life that are unique in Israel, drawing on the best of Jewish tradition and meeting it with creativity and innovation that can seed exciting new models for cultural, artistic, and progressive Jewish life here.
I encourage you to consider coming along because this is important for our informed engagement with the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, for our honest and nuanced conversations here in Canada, and for whatever activism or engagement we may take on to affect change there.
I encourage you to come because North American Jewish communal money and influence are used to make decisions in your name and the more we are exposed to the difficult challenges and aspiring visions present on the ground, the more we can bring our voices and values to bear on Israel’s future directions.
I encourage you to come so that we can learn together, explore together, and bring the depth and vitality of this experience back to the DJC with us.
We are planning our trip for December 2015. We will be using Keshet, a high-level educational tour provider who will work with us to tailor a program to meet our interests and needs.
If you are interested or have any questions, please contact RabbiMiriam@djctoronto.com for more information. We need a minimum of 15 participants to move ahead, so please be in touch soon.