A City, A Palace, A Parade
This past week we observed Memorial Day. In synagogue we read the names of Jewish soldiers who have been killed defending America since 2001 and took a moment of silence to reflect on those sacrifices. On Tuesday night and Wednesday, we celebrated Yom Yerushalayim, a joyful day to remember the miracle of the reunification of Jerusalem in 1967.
On Sunday, June 1st, Orangetown Jewish Center congregants and our Rockland County friends will join with thousands from the tri-state area to walk down Fifth Avenue in the Israel Day Parade. (For information about the parade, go to the Rockland Jewish Federation website: http://www.jewishrockland.org.) Rabbi Scheff and I hope that you’ll join us there. So often, our Jewish selves and our American selves weave together and separate and weave together again.
This past Shabbat, I asked our congregation to stand if Israel is their home. A vast majority of people in the sanctuary was standing. For some like our Israeli congregants whose families are all there, Israel is the place to which they return when they go home. For some like Rabbi Scheff’s sister and her husband and my daughter Sarah, Israel actually is their home. For others like my son Josh who recently announced his plans for aliya, Israel will be their home.
What about the rest of us? We identify Israel as home. We are Zionists who understand the need to support and advocate for a home for the Jewish people in the land of Israel. We travel there as often as we can. Shouldn’t we be living there? What are we doing here?
I suggested this past Shabbat that there are two important ways to be Zionists: to be there and to be here. In the first century of the common era, Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai said that Judaism is a palace floating atop two ships at sea: one is Eretz Yisrael (the land of Israel) and the other is Galut (Jews outside of Israel). Without both ships staying afloat, said this rabbi of the Mishnah, Judaism would topple. This palace atop two ships imagery is important to this day.
Two of my children will live out their Zionism in Israel, protecting the state by serving in the IDF and then studying, working and establishing themselves as adults in Israel. Two of my children will live out their Zionism in America, protecting the state of Israel by their support and advocacy as they establish their lives here in the U.S. If the metaphor of the palace holds true, then Judaism will remain safe, with both ships staying afloat. As long as the palace of Judaism is carried by Israel and the Diaspora, it will remain Or L’Goyim, a light to the nations, spreading our understanding of living with a moral compass — to the entire world.
With dreams of peace, Rabbi Paula Mack Drill