The holiday season in Israel is readily noticed also by the increase of tourists arriving here. Indeed many even make their way out to Judea and Samaria, not only the biblical heartland, but where we actually started here in Israel, from Abraham onward.
Always noticeably missing are the secular Jewish tourists, Jews who hail from Conservative and Reform congregations. They are in Israel, in fact there are always “missions” here, but their leadership makes sure to keep them away from the Jewish Heartland. Often claiming “too politically charged”, “dangerous” and many other pitiful excuses.
Funny how we can always find mainstream US Jewish “leadership” in Ramallah, but a visit to Shilo, Beit El and more, simply out of the question. Gd forbid they visit sites directly connected to their own history. Sites that would strengthen their own identity and connection, their congregations identity and connection, stated challenges they face in keeping their respective flocks at home. Why would they wish to keep their people disconnected and ignorant to their history? Why would they deny them the chance to walk in the steps of their forefathers? What are they afraid of?
I am not talking politics, simply the chance to visit these places that are so important to us as a people. They all claim to be so “pro-Israel”, so why should these places be so different.
Federations and so on, will always visit Jewish sites in other countries on “Heritage” tours, but to see their own heritage in Israel, to be denied them by their own leadership??? Seems suspicious.
In almost all Jewish Congregations of worship, the “stories” are read, the Torah and Haftorahs are recited…how many of you and your congregants can point out the locations mentioned on a map, how many have people have visited them, how many maybe would like to?
I would like to issue the challenge to any “Rabbi who avoids places like Shilo, Beit El, Hevron…to throw down the gauntlet, if you will. If you are not trying to manipulate your congregation’s political leanings, if you are not trying to deny them the chance of a lifetime to really see where they are from, then take them out to Judea and Samaria, no politics, just history, our history.
Of course if you are attempting to mold and manipulate others opinions to match your own rather than develop their own informed opinions and ideas, or allow others to be misinformed, and deny them their history and heritage, you will ignore this letter.
For those of you who are not ignoring this letter, ask your Rabbi about it. Succot is a time of all Jews coming together…we are here, waiting for you with open arms.
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