A Day that Will Live in Infamy

Today in the Jewish world it is the twelfth of Heshvan, the anniversary of the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin at the hands of the Jewish terrorist, Yigal Amir.
I use the word, “terrorist,” purposely. He ranks with the worst of the Palestinian terrorists who have attacked Israel over the years.

Amir’s savage act of barbarism scuttled the hope for peace that burned so brightly in 1995.

Since those days of hope, the government of Benjamin Netanyahu has flung the hopes for peace so far back into the shadows that they are almost out of sight.

Make no mistake, Netanyahu has done wonders for Israel’s economy. He has opened markets around the world, cut taxes drastically and made Israel into a far more prosperous nation than it was before. He has held the office of Prime Minister longer than anyone in Israel’s history.

He is also under investigation on serious charges of corruption.

Worse than that, he has hurled Israel from the brink of cooperation with the Palestinians–who also lay claim to our land–to the shoals of terror, mistrust and confrontation. Thus, staining the conscience of the only Democracy in the Middle East, and of the Jews like me and others around the world who support her.

We support her because we believe there should be a tiny Jewish State in a vast sea of Arab/Islamic hegemony. We have known what it is like to live or die for 2000 years at the “by-your-leave” of rulers.  These rulers whom, with every turn of the economy, transformed their Jews into pariahs who faced persecution, isolation, forced conversion, expulsion or extermination. Forgive us that we will never willingly give up sovereignty over the one tiny sliver of real estate where Jews control their own destiny.

The greatness of Yitzhak Rabin is that he recognized, after years as a hardliner, that living in peace was better than living under a state of siege.

For that, his political future was in dire jeopardy while Benjamin Netanyahu fanned the flames of violent protestations of the concessions for peace Rabin’s government had agreed to make. Netanyahu exacerbated the distrust of many Israelis who — from bitter experience — were unwilling to trust that our enemies could become allies.

Indeed Rabin’s widow, Leah Rabin went on record as pointing the finger at Netanyahu for encouraging the atmosphere of anger that led to Yigal Amir’s barbarous act.

Amir will spend the rest of his life in prison, but in the words of Brenda Lee, “That don’t right the wrong that’s been done!”

On this sorrowful anniversary I cry for what might have been.

I will never abandon the hope that peace will come, and I pray that leaders on both sides will soon realize as Yitzhak Rabin realized: It is our destiny as Jews and Palestinians to share this land and to proclaim as Rabin did:

Enough of war…Enough of bloodshed, Enough.”

And I pray that these leaders create two independent states that live in peace, harmony and mutual cooperation with one another.

 

Rabbi Stephen Lewis Fuchs

ameinu.net

 

 

Joy in Jerusalem

Rabbi Stephen Lewis Fuchs

Leo Fuchs and Rabbi Stephen Fuchs. Jerusalem 10/21/2018

Jerusalem, October 2018

How blessed I am to be on this trip. It is far from my first, but in several ways, it has been my most gratifying.  

I have not gone to the Dead Sea, Masada, Tsevat, Tel Aviv and all the other places Pastor Dr. John Danner and I look forward to seeing with our group from Bat Yam Temple of the Islands and Sanibel Congregational UCC at the end of April and the beginning of May.

No, on this trip I remained exclusively in Jerusalem.  I have had the joy of witnessing the Bat Mitzvah of Zahra Levy, a young girl I have known for four years now from the work Vickie and I have done in Germany where she and her family live.  Zahra’s mother, Yancy Sol Velasquez Levy translated my first book, ״What’s in It for Me? Finding Ourselves in Biblical Narratives,” into Spanish, and I am so grateful to her.

When, over a year ago, Yancy invited me to come to Zahra’s Bat Mitzvah ceremony at Robinson׳s Arch at the Western Wall, I knew I wanted to be here.  I have also had the joy of delivering Divrei Torah, in Hebrew and English respectively, at Kehilat Har El, Israel’s oldest Reform Congregation, and to first-year Rabbinical and Cantorial students at Hebrew Union College in this city.

By far, though the biggest pull that brings me to Israel this time is the presence of our older son, Leo.

At the age of 42, Leo decided to step away from his successful career as Principal of Learning Without Limits in Oakland, CA.  LWL is the academic elementary school Leo and a group of others founded to give inner city kids a better shot at life.  By all measures it has been a great success.  In his role as Principal, Leo stressed to his overwhelmingly Latino and Afro-American student body the importance of knowing their roots and on whose shoulders they stand.  Increasingly, in recent years, while encouraging his students to be in touch with their roots, he was feeling the pull of his own.  So, “b’kitzur” (“in brief”) as we say in Hebrew, that is why he decided to study to become a rabbi. The HUC program mandates that all first-year candidates to be Rabbis and cantors spend their first year of study in Israel, and that is why Leo is here.

My great joy is sharing a small slice of his experience. We get to hang out together after classes, to stroll the streets of Jerusalem and just talk.  How often does a father get to spend with an adult child the amount of quality one on one time we are sharing? I thank the Eternal One continually for these shared hours.  As objective as I can be, I was amazed at Leo׳s sensitivity, skill and poise in co-leading with an Israeli Rabbinical student, the first shared worship service between the American students in Leo׳s program and the Israeli rabbinical students.

I have also gotten to see and observe many of his future colleagues. This purpose-driven group is well-aware of the issues of assimilation and declining synagogue involvement that has Rabbis, Cantors, Educators and lay volunteers wringing our hands with concern.

I admit that the Jewish leaders of my generation have not found effective solutions to these realities. But the qualities of intellect, spiritual depth and compassion I observe in the current crop of HUC students gives me real hope for the Jewish future.

 

 

Rabbi Stephen Lewis Fuchs

Leo Fuchs and Rabbi Stephen Fuchs. Jerusalem 10/21/2018