I doodled once on the cover of my notebook, but I didn’t take any notes. Every time we met with a speaker, I brought my notebook and pen with me, but I never once wrote down what they were saying. I’m not sure that I couldn’t have; I’m only sure that I didn’t want to.
The two days of our Perspectives Israel trip were completely packed with speaker after speaker. We ate lunch on the bus because otherwise we wouldn’t have made it back before Shabbat on Friday. And we really stuck to our schedule. They spoke, we asked, they answered, and we left for the bus. Speaker after speaker after speaker.
I think my concern was mostly about being present with them.
I made aliyah 2.5 years ago. Someday (G-d willing) I will be a mom – a mom to sabras. It will be my turn to directly shape the next generation of Israel.
What will I say when they ask about the Separation Barrier? What will I say when they ask about a 1 or 2 state solution? What will I say when they ask me to recall my thoughts on the disengagement to Gaza and what happened to the former residents of Gush Katif? What will I say when they ask me how I felt about the Kasam rockets that fell on Sderot? What will I say when they try to understand why we need a fortified room built into our home and to know where a nearby bomb shelter is? What will I say about the people of Gaza and the West Bank and the concrete slabs separating us? What will I say about traveling in Gush Etzion?
Will my children be safe? Will my children have a stronger connection to their Judaism because I chose to make aliyah when I was 25? Will the violence of my nation’s country jade me? Will there always be a Jewish and democratic state? Will there continue to be mistrust and hate and war? Will I always have hope for a better future? For peace? Will I be as strong and hopeful as the voices I heard on my Perspectives Israel trip in March 2012?
How will I raise my children to understand nuance? How will I raise my children to keep opening their hearts in the face of adversity? To be strong? To have faith? How will I be a contributing member of society and help shape Israel – the one and only Jewish state, that I happen to love – for a better future?
All of these thoughts whirl in my mind as I walk home from Havdalah at shul starting my next week after a Perspectives Israel trip and a lovely Shabbat with my love in his childhood neighborhood of Gilo -overlooking Bethlehem. Contradictions, hopes, fears, and harsh realities hit me as I grapple with my recent experiences. Experiences that I hope will only be another important step along my journey of becoming an educated, impactful citizen of Israel.
Two weeks ago I had the pleasure of participating in a trip called Perspectives Israel which brought me to several locations around Israel, and provided me with an opportunity to hear from a number of different people in on the Israeli political spectrum. With stops in and around Jerusalem, Sderot, and Gush Etzion, I was able to piece together a more complete picture of the issues confronting Israel, as well as some of the steps that are being taken to attempt to bring solutions.
Often in Israeli politics, as with Middle Eastern politics in general, situations are quickly separated into left and right, which makes them appear to be diametrically opposed to each other. Each side often accuses the other as being disloyal to a national cause, even insinuating that the opponent is for example, “destroying the country.” Perspectives taught me that regardless of the position held, each person or group is supremely passionate about what they are doing, and the views that hey hold, and that any actions borne of those positions are based on their love of country.
Recently in Israel we are hearing a lot of news coming from the radical religious right, whether settlers or Hareidim. Late last summer the big news was the protest tent cities that were demanding more human rights. Each has at one time or another accused the other of attempting to bring down the State of Israel. Just to be clear, this is not meant to condone the violence in either direction, although even the violence is because those committing it think they are “right.” So left right, religious or not, all are passionate across the spectrum
Over the coming weeks, I am looking forward to sharing more about my experiences with Perspectives, while keeping in mind that every person whom I discuss remains passionate about his or her political stances and that the love of Israel unites them all.