A week or two ago, on the Orthodox Conundrum Discussion Group on Facebook, Scott posted a question about the propriety of Jews living outside of Israel going on fancy vacations while the Israeli population is experiencing a world where there are kidnapped Jews trapped in Gaza, where we continue to mourn the loss of 1200 victims of October 7th plus over 200 soldiers who have died in the aftermath, and when almost every family is directly experiencing the anxiety of having family currently fighting in the Israeli army. He suggested that maybe now is a time for Jews outside of Israel to express solidarity, in part, by avoiding so-called “fabulous vacations” – or at least having enough sensitivity not to post about them.
In response to that post, Maharat Ruth Balinsky Friedman, who was on the Orthodox Conundrum after Pesach to talk about the relationship of diaspora Jews to Israel, recommended that we record an episode to give a voice to those Jews who live outside of Israel. As a result of her message, Scott convened a panel with her, Rabbi Pesach Sommer, and HaDassah Sabo Milner in order for them to express what it has been like to be a Jew living outside of Israel since the terrible attack on Simchat Torah.
To say the obvious, the reflections that each panelist offered are, by definition, anecdotal and partial; they can’t describe anyone’s feelings but their own. Moreover, they bring only their own life experiences to the table, and for that reason, there are many perspectives which are unfortunately omitted, including those of people living in Jewish communities which are not represented here. Nevertheless, the goal is not to offer a definitive expression of diaspora Jewry regarding the situation in Israel, but to start a conversation between people living in Israel and outside of Israel, so that we can all be enriched by, and more understanding of, each other’s perspectives. As Ruth pointed out in the podcast, we often end up talking past each other instead of to each other; let’s hope that this can be a corrective to that, and the start of more productive communications between committed Jews, no matter where they live.
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Music: “Happy Rock” by bensound.com