Passover is weeks away, and many of us have started to make preparations to gather and share our central story of our Exodus from Egypt. (If you would like to join us for 2nd night seder, register HERE.)
In Torah times, this preparation would include a journey to our nation’s capital, Jerusalem. From the four corners of Israel, our people would travel by foot to bring their sacrifices to The Temple, where they would be received by the Levite priests.
Accounts of this sojourn (taken three times a year, at Passover, Shavuot and Sukhot) relay that although our ancestors were mindful that it was for a serious purpose, there also was very much an element of celebration that would occur once they were in Jerusalem. We can picture it: a city with people, tons of catching up with old friends, and meeting lots of good people who were very much like you.
Last week a group of about 30 Temple Emanu-El congregants made a similar journey to our nation’s capital in Washington, DC. We were there for the annual American Israeli Public Affairs Committee Policy Conference AIPAC, where our merry band joined 19,000 others, for what is the largest Jewish gathering in America. Here, Jews and non-Jews of every stripe and spectrum gathered for a sacred purpose: to strengthen the US-Israel relationship, and to make sure that this relationship is never taken for granted.
The energy of the conference was even more incredible than I remember (I’ve gone 16 out of 19 years), with the top minds in the country exchanging information, ideas, and dare I say…hope. This was the case despite the very real acknowledgements of a rise of AntiSemitism, and other challenges that we face as a country and as citizens of the world.
Our final day together was one of intense lobbying, where every single member of congress was met by an AIPAC delegation to talk through particular issues and bills. AIPAC issues link click HERE.
It was amazing.
I found my way into serious Judaism through Israel, and Israel (with all of its complexities) remains the bedrock of my Jewish identity. My engagement with AIPAC is one of the main ways that I effectively express my love and support.
This past week has been, and continues to be, a historical and dynamic one for Israel, with President Trump recognizing Israel’s sovereignty of the Golan, to a continuous whirl-wind of Israeli election drama.
Below are a few links to help you understand various perspectives on both.
As we enter Shabbat, may we all go from strength to strength.
United States Recognizes Israel’s Sovereignty of the Golan
"It’s a piece of high ground in one of the most conflict-prone places on Earth. That’s made the Golan Heights a focus of global dispute since Israel seized it from Syria in the 1967 Middle East War. The U.S., like the rest of the world, had refrained from accepting Israel’s claim to the strategically important territory. But U.S. President Donald Trump officially recognized Israeli sovereignty there March 25 in a ceremony in Washington alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.”
While this may come as a surprise for many Americans, the understanding (across most of the political spectrum) in Israel is that the Golan Heights is a strategic asset of Israel. Some believe it could be exchanged for peace when Syria becomes a peaceful and functioning state. Others believe that the Golan Heights is necessary to maintain Israel’s security in the north.
The Makom Election Kit
A chart that outlines the political positions of the many different political parties that are running in this election. Given the vast number of parties, we’ve put together an easy-to-read chart of the main parties running, to help makes sense of the different opinions on many important issues, from religious pluralism to international security to Palestinians.
In-Depth Information About Israeli Political Parties
We recommend this resource, put out by the Israel Democracy Institute: https://en.idi.org.il/israeli-elections-and-parties/elections/2019/.
Understanding How the Election Process Works
Check out the Center for Israel Education’s video: