This week, my 10-year old son reflected with me about a wonderful lesson in his class at Berkman Mercaz Limud (our religious school). The 4th graders learned about the siren that was sounded throughout Israel two weeks ago for Yom HaShaoh—Holocaust Remembrance Day, and just last week for Yom HaZikaron, Israel’s Memorial Day. He showed me the video on YouTube, where you can see Israelis driving on the highway, stop their cars, step outside, and stand quietly in memorial honor for the duration of the one-minute siren. What impressed me about the teacher’s lesson was my son’s readiness to discuss deeper concepts. He asked about the roots of hatred and why some groups live together peacefully and others do not.
I responded that the world—all of us—have work to do, and that Jews like every other group, need to be careful to take care of our own people and also to take care of others.
Within public discourse and institutional Jewish life, too often we are asked to choose between the two principles: If you care more about taking care of our own people, here’s the right-leaning organization for you. If you care more about taking care of other groups, here’s the left-leaning organization for you. The polarization may work for some, especially those who hold extreme positions. But I believe most of us want a Jewish community who cares about and advocates, for both the interests of the Jewish people and the interests of other groups. Both, Israelis and Palestinians. Read the rest of this entry »