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02/28/2023 11:20:53 AM

Feb28

Coming home from Israel

I am writing this short article as I prepare to return home after two wonderful weeks in Israel.  The first half of the trip was spent touring Jewish and Christian and secular Israeli sites with some wonderful people from CBSW and The Woodlands Methodist Church. We were fortunate to be a great group, with a great guide, and terrific weather. There are things I had not seen in years, and I saw them anew through the eyes of our Christian compatriots. I look forward to planning the next CBSW trip to Israel, hopefully next June.
 
This second week I have been meeting, along with 350 Reform rabbis from North America and Israel, with Israeli politicians, thought leaders, and representatives of the different religious and political camps. There have been major street demonstrations against the current government’s intended political agenda. There have been terrorist incidents in border areas and military responses. On the one hand, this really feels like the safest country in the world, especially in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. People are out at night, celebrating life, when they are not marching. There are tensions below, of course. What will become of the challenges to democratic norms like checks and balances in government? How will Palestinians cope with expanding settlements in the West Bank? There is a great cloud of uncertainty hanging over here.
 
Nevertheless, for a Jew (or non-Jew as well) visiting Israel is more than a vacation or an item to check off one’s bucket list. It is an experience that I would call religious, even if that experience is about eating great ice cream on the street of the first modern Jewish city, or studying a recent poem in the place which inspired it.
 
Israel is thriving externally and struggling internally. (It’s not the only country.) But it retains its magic. It is a modern miracle. And it is our miracle to embrace.

Wed, February 21 2024 12 Adar I 5784