CCAR Newsletter Sep-Oct 2014 - 1
Publication of the Central Conference of American Rabbis
September * October 2014 | Volume 62 - Issue 1
איגוד הרבנים המתקדמים
FROM THE CCAR NEWSLETTER EDITOR
Rebecca Einstein Schorr
FROM THE PRESIDENT
The story is told of a tourist who
visited Jerusalem's Biblical Zoo
and saw that each enclosure
bore a sign containing a
pertinent biblical quotation.
One quoted Isaiah, "In that
day the wolf and the lamb
will live together." Across the
moat separating the animals
from visitors, he saw that a wolf and a lamb were
lying peaceably together, side by side. Amazed,
he sought out the zookeeper and asked how that
was possible. "It's simple," the zookeeper replied.
"Every day we put in a new lamb."
This apocryphal tale neatly captures the polarity
with which Israelis, and all of us who love and
care about Israel, must contend. Idealism and
realism, optimism and pessimism, hope and
despair, coexist in an awkward, and sometimes
awful, tension. Somehow, Judaism has never been
daunted by the yawning chasm between the messy
brokenness of reality and the repaired, perfected
world to which our tradition aspires and toward
which it commands us to strive.
That which is and that which might be stand
juxtaposed in both our Scriptures and liturgy. The
Sh'ma proclaims Adonai Echad, "the Eternal is
One." Yet as we conclude the Aleinu, we assert,
Bayom hahu yih'yeh Adonai Echad, "On that day,"
that far-off, imagined, longed-for day of universal
peace, justice, and fellowship, "the Eternal shall
be One...." We affirm that God is both One and
not yet One. The ideal and the real, mutually
contradictory states of being co-exist within us,
and we within them, in cognitive dissonance.
This summer, the dissonance was indescribably
painful, as Israel found its cities and citizens
under relentless bombardment by Hamas, sworn
to the destruction of Jews and the Jewish state,
and as terrorists swarmed through tunnels into
Israel to kill and kidnap Israeli civilians and
soldiers. Hamas's instigation of hostilities and its
refusal to accept a ceasefire compelled Israel to
defend itself, with heartbreaking and predictable
consequences, including the death of sixty-four
When Operation Protective Edge was initiated on July 8, 2014, I had what I imagine
was an irrational thought felt by many of our colleagues: I need to be there.
There is a certain kind of crazy that motivates one to run toward an armed
conflict rather than away from it. And while one might dismiss it as the action of
an adrenaline junkie, in this particular case, I believe it is akin to the response of
someone whose loved one has had an accident or is going through a crisis. The
lack of physical proximity propels us to rush to our loved one's side in order to
offer support and comfort.
In response to those who voiced their desires to visit Israel in her time of need, the CCAR staff rapidly
coordinated an emergency solidarity mission with ARZA/Da'at World Travel. Anyone who has ever planned
a trip knows that a great deal of time and effort are involved. The urgency of this trip did not compromise the
caliber of the programing. This emergency solidarity mission took participants across Israel over the five days
and provided opportunities to hear from a variety of experts including four members of Knesset as well as
meaningful, and often spontaneous, encounters with ordinary citizens. Especially critical, for us and for them,
was the morning spent with our own MARAM colleagues, providing them with emotional and spiritual support
as they were called to minister to others while they themselves were under a great deal of personal stress.
And without exception, every one of these meetings was of great value.
This was my first opportunity to travel on a CCAR trip and, with God's help, will not be the last. Sharing
this type of journey not only provided the opportunity to meet colleagues I did not know, but allowed for
an intense intimacy as we experienced challenging, and sometimes emotional, moments together. It so
happened that I was one of three members of the same Israel class on this mission. Sharing an Israel
experience with classmates exactly twenty years after we first met in Israel added an additional sweetness
as we reminisced about who Israel was during our Year-in-Israel and how it has changed over the years,
and who we were and how we have changed over the years.
Prior to this trip, I hadn't considered taking a CCAR trip. Nor had I considered using ARZA/Da'at
World Travel as a tour operator. Without hesitation, I can say that my views have changed. While other
organized trips might include a visit to a Reform/Progressive institution, it won't have the same taam
as a trip organized by the travel experts of our own Movement. Our colleague Don Goor of ARZA/
Da'at World Travel, working with Hara Person, moved rapidly to build a trip that would highlight the
impact of the situation not only on Israelis, but on the communities of our Movement in Israel as
well. Uri Feinberg, our tour guide and son of our teacher and colleague Shaul Feinberg, is an active
member of Kehillat Yozma, the Progressive shul in Modi'in. Throughout our tour, not only were Reform
points of interest included, but Uri was able to share the Progressive perspective from his own personal
experiences. There are many other wonderful tour operators who also will build meaningful and
significant trips for our communities. These are all important things to consider when choosing a tour
operator for ourselves and for our congregational trips.
As part of our Leadership Travel series, the CCAR will be travelling to Israel in January with two very
different trips: "Israel Familiarization Trip: Never Led a Trip to Israel?" and "Israel: Sustainability for
the Body and Soul." The trips will run simultaneously January 20-26, 2015. More information can be
found on the CCAR website.
And, of course, plans are already under way for the 2016 Convention, which will be in Israel February
(Continued on page 7)
(Continued on page 3)