Thursday, July 30, 2009

9 b'AV

A custom among many Shilo families on the 9th of Av is to read “Eicha” (Lamentations) at the site of the Ancient city of Shilo, which is in the community boundaries. The families gather at nightfall and pray Ma’ariv (Evening Prayer) and then read “Eicha” lit by either candles or flashlight.

Last night as I looked around at the families gathered, I couldn’t help but see our history before my eyes. Here we were at Ancient Shilo, the first capital of Israel, where Joshua set up the Mishkan (Tabernacle). Above us the lights of modern day Shilo, and surrounding us, the other Jewish communities of the Shilo Bloc. This alone spanned over 3000 years of our history, from the start of our presence in the Land of Israel till today. I looked at the faces, while gripped with mourning for what was, I saw the strength of those who have rebuilt and continue to build our people, our land. The faces are those of Jews from all over the world, the Kippahs are those from all over the spectrum, the customs come from the four corners of the earth, the hearts are those of one.

It was truly uplifting to be part of this, despite it being the 9th of Av. One of the reasons we do not recite Tachnun (supplications), on this day is because this day will become one of joy (Gd willing in the near future), and seeing this strength, this future brought a smile to my face. My family and I had just landed the night before from a trip to the US where we spoke to and met with different communities. We found many to be distraught regarding Israel and the treatment we are receiving from the US administration, worse was the rampant lack of knowledge and understanding of the communities in Judea and Samaria and how integral they are to the entire State of Israel, and to the Jewish people. It was saddening to hear one of my children remark at one of the speaking events, that he doesn’t understand why the Jews don’t care more about Judea and Samaria. Thank Gd we found many that do, and many more that want to hear and learn more.

However, over all, seeing the lack of connection, the lack of involvement truly set the mood for the 9th of Av. In this time of relentless attacks on the Jewish State, regardless of law or justice, we can get a feeling of what occurred so many years ago. The self hatred of our own people towards the land and people living in Israel, the financial support that is given to our enemies by so called allies and “Human Rights” groups is not going to weaken us, it will have a boomerang effect. More and more people in the world are waking to the tyranny of Washington and the hypocrisy of the present Peace process. We will continue to have enemies in this world, like everybody else, it is our unity or lack of which determines how strong they will be. It is how we chose to be involved that will set the pace.

As I gaze into the future, the faces of the present families surrounding me at the site of our ancient city of Shilo, I know that we will endure. I see our people slowly coming together again throughout my travels. They look for strength and integrity and they will find it again from where it all began, in the land of Israel, in a region of our country called Yehuda and Shomron.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Preaching to the Choir

It has often been said of many of the speakers that come to the US to address the “Settlement Issue” or to speak, or raise funds for various projects throughout Yehuda and Shomron (Yesha), that they are usually “Preaching to the Choir”. There is no doubt that this is a correct statement. However the task is not “Preaching” it is Teaching. It is teaching that same choir how to sing that is needed most. Most “Choirs” know the sermon by heart, but few can repeat it out loud. Heads shake in agreement, but when the verses are needed to be heard and to be heard out loud by others, the words and tunes are mysteriously jumbled or forgotten.

Our “Preachers” erred greatly when they only approached those that came to choir practice. They forgot to look for talent outside of the box. Perhaps this is why we only hear the music on select channels and not all over the bandwidth.

It seems that many choir members are tired of hearing the same sermon, time and time again to the point that they do not sing anymore.

The sermon must change and new members are needed. Talent must come from all over and not just the closed doors of the sanctuary. This task is in the charge of the Preachers, and they must learn that all octaves are needed to make a great choir. Relearning is needed by all.

The Jewish people are at a crossroads, with their souls being chased by many. One thing for sure is that a wrong decision will have dire results for all of us all over the world. The entire concept of legality and truth are being rewritten before our eyes, a double standard is quickly becoming a double-edged sword. Israel’s personal business has become everybody’s business with the world telling us we don’t have the right to decide anything for ourselves. As children we have all learned that there comes a time when we have to stand up to bullies, now is that time, no matter how many there are.

Nobody in this world has the right to dictate to Israel what to do, it is the other way around, and it is up to Israel to show the world what to do.

Every moral law is being broken regarding the Jews of Israel. What would be deplored as blatant discrimination and hatred and injustice is quickly becoming Standard Operating Procedure towards Israel. Accepted once again is discrimination against the Jews, this time at government and international levels.

Lack of leadership, lack of direction and the compromise to terror has brought us down this path. The land of Israel has always represented strength and unity to the Jewish people. As the attempts to carve it up increased, as our leaders gave in to the world, it has affected all of us as a people. The momentum decreased, we started to splinter and this is the opportunity our enemies were waiting for.

The many faces of the Jewish people started looking elsewhere for leadership often forgetting that we are one. We allowed our differences to take over and separate us, the first victim being the heartland of Israel and the dedicated Jews living there. The target is Jewish strength and Jewish identity.

The choir has been coming apart, no longer are their voices loud enough to be heard over the shouts of hatred. We find ourselves now on the defense. Jewish students on campuses throughout the US desperately seek ways to respond to Arabs and Left wing enemies of Israel. Israel did not become a strong nation by responding, but by taking the initiative and moving forward. When we perceived a threat, we made the first move in order to preserve life, to protect life. Israel learned that responding to attacks cost too much blood. Yet today our brothers outside of Israel cower and hide or worse, adopt the enemy standpoint.

So it is time to reorganize the choir, to teach them to sing loud, to teach them to sing together, to deafen the shouts of our enemies. A successful choir must include many octaves, and they must learn to work together despite the tonal differences.

The preaching will continue, and the teaching will continue until we can rebuild that choir. We will learn to sing again, together as one, and the world will be our audience, and the music and voices will be heard again from our hearts and our heartland, Yehuda and Shomron.