Notes From Jerusalem
Jerusalem is a joy and a wonder, as is Israel. Walking down a street today I saw pre-schoolers walking and singing with their teacher the tune “Artik-Mentah-Shokolad-Banana,” which we teach at Jewish camp. It reminded me that with so much division surrounding us, so much mistrust and even hatred, we can fail to see simple beauty, like hearing a child’s voice in song.
Yet we know that children in this area – Jewish and Palestinian – sometimes suffer too much from this conflict to raise their voices in joyous song. I get it. At the same time, there are lives being lived not 5 blocks from my house in Pittsburgh that are less than harmonious. Despite everything, I love Jerusalem and I walk through its streets over and over again, delighting even in running simple errands.
I love going to shacharit (morning) service at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, praying with friends, old and new. Today I sang harmonies with Cantor Jeff Klepper. The Jeff Klepper, who wrote dozens of the songs we sing in our Reform movement, especially our youth groups.
I love sitting with Rabbi Ezzie Ende and catching up on our families. Ezzie worked as our Associate Rabbi from 2006-2010 and made a lasting impression on our community. I love seeing the mix on the streets and in the alleyways of Jerusalem- old hands and tourists, Arabs and Jews, sharing this wonderful, holy, yet troubled space.
Next week I’ll be visiting up north near Haifa and a newer city in the West Bank named Efrat that challenges me, given the present political climate. You see, in Israel I am drawn to the vibrancy and challenge of life instead of wanting to withdraw.
I would love to share Israel with you, my Israel. Come and see the wonder. Come and experience the challenges. Come and, I hope, fall in love with this country I love so much.
Rabbi Jamie Gibson
For more information on traveling to Israel with the congregation and earning scholarships, please contact Rabbi Jamie Gibson at (412) 421-9715.