50 years ago, Israel fought and won the Six-Day War. Considered to be the shortest war in military history, that brief period in 1967 was transformative. Technically, it is also one of the longest conflicts ever, as even today, there hasn’t been a peace treaty signed between some of the combatants. It was an incredible victory for Israel - they captured Jerusalem bringing the Kotel HaMa’aravi, the Western Wall, under Jewish control.
I have to confess, I really disliked economics. When I was at university, I took the introduction to economics class thinking I should know something about this, since as they say, money makes the world go round. It wasn’t just the math- never my strong suit. It was the fundamental underlying assumption of capitalist economics that people act only out of self-interest. Something else bugged me about the theory of economics as well. If you have two groups and one is very good at making butter and the other is very good at making orange juice, the first should get all the milk and the other all the oranges. That is the most efficient distribution of resources. If that means that one has osteoporosis for lack of calcium and the other Scurvy for lack of vitamin C, well… that is irrelevant.
At the end of March, a number of Europe’s Progressive rabbis met in Brussels for the first annual meeting of ERA, the European Union for Progressive Judaism’s Rabbinic Association. It was a productive, collegial gathering at which there was a session on advocacy led by Robin Sclafani, Director of CEJI, a Jewish Contribution to an Inclusive Europe. She opened the session by asking each of us to think about a pet peeve of ours.
The other day I was walking and I heard someone say to their kid: “What is wrong with you? Be normal”. I am guessing that most of us have heard something like that, maybe even been a recipient of such a comment and probably at some point, we have all thought it. Behave. Fix your clothes. All the other similar comments that are meant to encourage whoever we are speaking to, to fit in, to be “normal”. We spent a huge chunk of our childhood being socialized to fit onto the societal normal. Then we travel and encountering a behavior, look or way of dressing that seems strange to us though it is completely normal in the place where we are. Over time, we learn that normal is as much a construct of place and society as anything else.
Recently, three of our IJC giur, conversion, students went before the Beit Din, the rabbinic board, and were accepted as full members of the Jewish people on 12 February 2017 corresponding to 17 Shevat 5777.
First a Mazel Tov to Keenan Talon-Moses and his family on the wonderful job he did on 22 April. The IJC community can be justly proud of his learning and what he accomplished in the process of studying for his Bar Mitzvah. Also a thank you to Mikael Garellick and all the many other people who helped make our wonderful IJC potluck Seder inspiring and celebratory.
The UK has just announced that it will stop receiving children under the Dubs amendment to the Immigration Act of 2016, which required the UK to bring unaccompanied refugee children to the UK. While there are other means by which the UK accepts refugees, both children and adults, the ministerial statement by British Home Office is worrying. All the more so in light of past refusal by other EU countries to accept refugees, particularly from the Middle East and Donald Trump’s recent executive order banning refuges, specifically those from certain predominantly Muslim countries.