I am in Jerusalem for the Jewish Agency Board of Governors meetings. I arrived last Thursday and spent Shabbat in this glorious home of our People. All of you know the feeling of looking out from your Hotel at the Walls of the Old City on Shabbat and the sense one has of being home.
I also arrived in time to read Ethan Bronner's story in last Thursday's New York Times -- Palestinians seek leverage in the push for statehood. Here is how Bronner's story, by-lined Ramallah, West Bank, began: "The Palestinian leadership, near despair about attaining a negotiated agreement with Israel on a two-state solution..." What nonsense -- in their "despair," this "leadership" refuses to recognize Israel as a Jewish State, and in their hand-wringing (or is it Bronner's hand-wringing for them), these same Palestinian "leaders" would not sit with Israel and negotiate until the 9th month of the Israelis' 10 month settlement freeze (Bronner might wish to read Tom Friedman's op-ed of the same date; then again, perhaps not) and, even then, halfheartedly, apparently relying on a misguided Obama Administration to pressure Israel to concessions while neither making nor offering any themselves. Welcome to Yerushalayim.
And, last Thursday the Jerusalem Post and Ha'aretz reported on the Orthodox Rabbinate's determination to hold the Orthodox conversion of 1000's of members of the IDF hostage to the passage of the Conversion Bill. I think I have come to a full understanding of what perfidy and fundamentalist ignorance really have come to mean. And our North American organization -- silent. Welcome to Yerushalayim.
And coming here always means renewal -- of the spirit and of friendships. Meeting with past and present professional partners. with old and dear friends whom one hasn't seen for months. We compare our various maladies (something very Jewish). Helping to negotiate some serious issues on behalf of the Jewish Agency in a spirit of good will and mutual respect, in many ways renew one's and faith in the future, shadowed as always, by serious flaws in Israel-Diaspora relations that can only be remedied by new lay leadership in North America. For JAFI it is time for new plans, a renewed dedication to Jewish Peoplehood; a difficult and challenging road ahead to be travelled it appears with diminished resources. Our voices will not be silent as we carry the message of need home in a few days. Welcome to Yerushalayim.
I walk to the kotel, the Western Wall, and pray for the health of our older son, who will be in surgery tomorrow, and for the health of dear friends who could not join us this time as they fight to recover their health. Touching the Wall and all that the kotel embodies and symbolizes calms me and fills me with the sense that all will be well. God hear my prayers. Welcome to Yerushalayim.