By Rabbi Erin Boxt
I have been sitting at my desk for the past few hours, attempting to clear out some of the huge pile of work and thinking about how to respond to what I have been following in the news.
As usual, I find myself glued to a variety of news sources: Haaretz, JPost, CNN, Ynet News, etc. No matter which news source you seek out for answers, every person, no matter where he or she is from, has an opinion. Israel—the country, the people, the land—is one of the most debated topics.
Oftentimes, the discussion on Israel can be divisive. Why?
That is meant to be rhetorical.
I do understand the sides, the arguments. Everyone is right, and everyone is wrong. I often write blogs about issues that I believe to be important to everyone and that should bring people together. We all have a responsibility to help others.
I realize that this blog could be seen as picking a side. I will try my best not to do so. As a rabbi, I cannot divorce myself from my connection and support of Israel. I can, however, see that on each side (however you classify these sides) are innocent civilians trying to make their lives better. Let us all NOT forget that.
In early July I had the great privilege of meeting a very nice and well-educated young man, Ariel Dosetareh. As an Atlanta-raised Jewish man, he experienced quite an interesting life. Upon graduation from the Weber School, he sought to explore himself Jewishly, spiritually, etc. So he embarked on a yearlong study program at a yeshiva in Jerusalem.
The title of this blog is the same as his book. It is very well written, and in it, Ariel succeeds at bringing our sacred Jewish texts to us through his very real experiences in Israel. No matter what your connection to Israel is, this is a great book for all Jews. I highly recommend it. It is a page-turner. Focusing on the Parashat HaShavuah (Torah portion of the week), Ariel brilliantly weaves the biblical stories into his own contemporary experiences.
The truest wisdom in his book: “It’s one student’s humble quest to find inspiration in the everyday scenes, residents and lessons of one country.” Israel is a country of many cultures, religions, experiences, etc. It is impossible to completely capture the wonder of Israel in one book, but Ariel comes close! Kol Ha Kavod!
One more point: It is within each of us to make a difference in the world. Each of us can recognize and celebrate the beauty and wonder of everyone else we come in contact with. All we need to do is open our eyes and see it. Temple Kol Emeth proudly supports and encourages the welcoming of all people.
As a matter of fact, on Thursday at 7 p.m. we will host the ninth annual Ecumenical Thanksgiving Service. We will welcome clergy from a variety of churches, mosques, and temples to help lead us in prayer. We will also experience the wonder and beauty of a combined choir. If you are unable to join us, please check out our live stream at tinyurl.com/ecumenicalstream.
My dear friends, let us quickly approach the day when we all are able to see the beauty and how much we have in common. Our commonalities completely outweigh our differences.
Rabbi Erin Boxt serves as one of two rabbis at Temple Kol Emeth, a welcoming home for the Atlanta Jewish community to gather, learn and worship in East Cobb.