So while I always get confused about whether we light the Chanukiah from the right or from the left, I never get confused about the cumulative effect. First night is only one candle, second night is two candles, and the final night is the whole dark-banishing lot.
This morning, trying to get my head round the Iran Breakthrough/Deal/Compromise/Capitulation, I was reminded of the old argument about which order we should light the Chanukiah.
Bet Shammai, concerned for the correct and truthful representation of things, insisted that on the first night of Chanukah we should light all of the candles, reducing the number every night until the final night only one candle should be lit. This is in correct and proper representation of the amount of light in the day, which in December diminishes every day. Just as light is falling in the world, so should it decline in the house.
Bet Hillel just could not accept this reasoning. However rational and true, the Shammai ruling was just too depressing. I often like to think that Hillel appreciated the aesthetic side of things: Increasing the light daily is just prettier and lifts the soul. Bringing light to banish the darkness gives us hope.
So here we are on the cusp of Chanukah, with the results of the Geneva talks gradually being assessed and judged. Not being a nuclear physicist nor an international statesman myself, I find myself switching between columnists like one might switch between Shammai and Hillel. Sometimes I see clearly we are heading towards darkness. Sometimes towards the light.
And maybe this Chanukah, as we light ourselves a symbol of increasing optimism in defiance of the reality outside, I might also pray for a miracle.
Jerusalem has been a-popping with assemblies and conferences. The Assembly of the Jewish Agency for Israel overlapped with the General Assembly of Jewish Federations (GA), which fed into the Board of Governors of the Jewish Agency… A real party!
Makom was highly involved in all these gatherings, and as well as working like dogs, we also learned a few fascinating lessons…
1. We were surprised that non-Israelis were surprised that Israelis are engaged on meaningful journeys of Jewish Identity.
Yes, that’s right – a double surprise. At the session we ran at the GA on the Jewish identity of Israelis, we decided to take multi-vocality to its ultimate conclusion. Instead of having a panel of a few Israelis, we invited over 27 Israelis involved in all sorts of different Jewish identity questions, and sat them around small discussion tables. That way everyone would hear at least three different stories. From the head of a Secular Yeshiva, to the leader of a group of Orthodox gay men, to the orthodox woman working for the New Israel Fund. People from the far North, deep South, trendy center. People born in Israel and born elsewhere. All of them engaged and committed to expanding their own and other Israelis’ Jewish horizons. To Full Post
“You will have seen that the publicity design for this Global Jewish Forum on Israel Education is based on the format of Waze.
Waze is an Israeli hi-tech invention recently bought by Google for over a billion dollars. It’s a mobile application that works as a sophisticated GPS navigator.
You key in your destination.
It immediately recognizes where you are.
It maps the fastest route for you to reach your destination – but not only by looking at the map.
It also gathers information from all the other users of Waze at that moment, so as to gain an up-to-date picture of where there are traffic hold-ups – and it alters your route accordingly.
Today’s Global Jewish Forum, designed by Makom, the Jewish Agency’s Israel Education Lab, is built on the same principle as Waze.
When looking at Israel Education throughout the world – where are we? What is our starting position? Where would we like to get to?
It’s no good hoping to get somewhere while keying in a different place altogether.
And finally, what are the obstacles in the way of our reaching our destination, and how can they be avoided or overcome?
Just as with Waze, this final question of obstacles can only be answered through the shared information and shared perspectives of everyone else out on the highways and byways of Jewish life.
This morning we’ll be gathering a picture of where we’re at from Dr Alex Pomson, we’ll have the chance to share our ideas of destinations and obstacles in small group discussions, and then we’ll get the chance to hear some key practitioners working through their journeys.
The genius of Shay Charka captures the 850,000 crowd that gathered at R. Ovadia Yosef’s funeral.
This year it will be the 16th Memorial Day of the Assassination of Rabin. Every event that repeats itself year on year presents an educational challenge, but unlike traditional Jewish holy days, the shape of this Memorial Day is being formed in the here and now. And I ask myself what will make this Memorial Day into something different from other value-laden days like May Day, Yom Ha’atzmaut, Columbus Day? Is there anything to be learned from a political assassination? Did the world learn anything from Kennedy’s assassination? Martin Luther King’s? To Full Post
What was the secret of the charm of Rav Ovadiah Yosef?
On the one hand there were his fans and followers through fire and water who related to every word of his as holy; yet on the other, a whole swathe of Jews who saw him as a leader whose statements were hurtful and communally insensitive?
How is it possible that there can be those who saw him as a great leader who established the tent of the Torah, and others who saw him a leader of a crowd of primitives?
How can it be that a man of phenomenal intellect and superlative expertise in all areas of Judaism, failed again and again by shaming and slandering other leaders? To Full Post
For two years at the turn of the millennium, I would ask this same question at every school I visited in Israel.
Studying Jewish Educational Leadership with the Mandel School, we would go out on field trips throughout Israel. Dialogical alternative schools, Shas schools, Haredi schools, different shades of Orthodox schools, Jewish/Arab schools, teaching colleges – the lot. And at every school I would ask only one question, the answer to which would tell me all I needed to know about the school.
“What does your school do on Rabin Day?” To Full Post
Recently a young college student produced a film about her questions about the Women of the Wall. The film portrays her inner conflict regarding innovation versus tradition in the Jewish religion in general and the Women of the Wall in particular. We’ve added subtitles to the movie subtitles and asked the Makom team what they think about the film.
First appeared in Haaretz blog in Hebrew, 17/6/13
Here’s a story for you: With the help of Makom, the leaders of the Bnei Jeshurun community in Manhattan arrange a meeting with Rachel Azaria, Jerusalem council member of the Jerusalemites party.
They hear of her battles for a pluralistic Jerusalem, the fight for afternoon schooling, the struggle against the exclusion of women, and more. And they look to understand from her what New Politics is all about.
Azaria has three children and a baby. It’s the evening, and she has to be on Skype with New York. Her husband is on reserve duty, and her father arrives at her apartment in Katamonim to help out with dinner and showers. To Full Post
This is a follow-up article to the conversation that can be found here. First appeared in The Jewish Week.
Can Jewish religious life be full and fulfilling with no connection to Israel? Must a connection to a concrete Israel live separate from synagogue worship? Should our religious rituals ignore Israel in any way other than the metaphorical, or should it accept that the establishment of the State of Israel affected not just Jews but also Judaism itself? To Full Post