For all of you who have contributed to my Rabbi's Discretionary Fund, I thank you for your generosity and commitment to tzedakah. Moreover, your impact puts me in a position to help make things happen. Take, for example, Sunday night's program at Anshe Sholom-B'nai Israel, "Unlikely Partners for Peace."
After some internal discussion with our leadership, I determined I would use discretionary dollars to help co-sponsor this program with other urban synagogues and the Jewish United Fund. I'm glad I did. We were joined by Palestinian activist Ali Abu Awwad and orthodox Rabbi Hanan Schlesinger, both of whom live in the West Bank and collaborate on a project called Roots (in Hebrew, Shorashim, and in Arabic, Judhur). While there are numerous Palestinian-Israeli dialogues, Roots is apparently the only such conversation actually based in places like Gush Etzion in the Judean Hills. In some of these conversations, Israelis and Palestinians come into actual contact with one another for the very first time in their lives.
Roots is a grassroots movement of understanding, nonviolence, and transformation among Israelis and Palestinians. They envision a social and political reality based on shared dignity, trust, recognition and respect for both people's historic belonging to the entire land. They believe that dialogue is the secure place for argument and understanding, and it is in this safe space that solutions can be built. They tell us: "Don't be just pro-Israel or pro-Palestine. Be pro-solution."
There were many highlights Sunday evening and I learned a great deal. From Rabbi Schlesinger, I loved that he has learned to be human enough to change. He has broadened his soul to see a truth beyond his own. Wow! What a timely message for Yom Kippur. And from Mr. Awwad, I learned that only when Palestinians and Israelis recognize the humanity in each others' narratives, can they find equality. In the meantime, he is building the "structure on the ground" for nonviolent activism.
If you'd like to know more about Roots, go to their website at www.friendsofroots.net. You may also check out Ali Abu Awwad's Ted Talk at youtu.be/BzDEFAGv_hc.
G'mar tov. I hope this a good year for you...
Rabbi Craig Marantz