28 July 2007

Heartless State Religion

A cousin of a friend was killed in Lebanon last year. Went up to Har Hertzl where those who die for us are buried. The last time I was up there was last year, for Michael Levin's funeral. Michael died 6 Av. This boy, 23 years old, died on 13 Av. There were rows of graves in between them - everyone who died that week.

For all those boys dying and being remembered, the Army has professional Rabbis. Formula psalms, first this, then this, then the other - thank you for coming folks, we've got shows all week.

I asked my friend who he was. I know he was your cousin, but who was he? He was a good kid, we saw him 3 weeks before he died, he was engaged to be married the month after. That's all it took. Now I know him, now he's human, now I'm sure he deserves more than the formula.

24 July 2007

And for my Friends from the Beach...


It's been two years since we forcibly moved 8000 people from Gush Katif. Most of them are still living in temporary situations. Financial problems abound. Psychological hardship. Not much movement on the government's side. Not much attention in the media. Mainstream media seems to be silent. Only Artuz 7 is still paying attention.

I don't think the disengagement was a smart move, but if we're going to do it, can't we at least do it right? These people risked their lives daily for Israel and for the Jewish People. A good portion of them had been evacuated from Sinai after the agreement with Egypt, and explicitly asked by the Israeli government to settle in the Gaza strip. They made the desert bloom, just like the vision. Now they're wanderers, and rocket launchers are stationed on their old farms. Where's the justice?

22 July 2007

19 July 2007


Coming up from the spring, where I had searched for clarity, and found a heart of nameless ache, I saw three horses running across half-built house lots, up onto the street. The brown one, from a distance, was perfect - a regal majesty trapped in this world and echoing into the infinite. The white one was imperfect, spotted, and beautiful. A foal ran between them. I was arrested. I stood where I was. They galloped up the hill and into the street at speed, seemingly breaking away. The sound of their hooves on the asphalt was music and my heart mirrored it as they raced out of view, out of earshot.

I continued climbing the hill. The children of the town and half the dogs were chasing the horses around, but the horses were gone. I passed the tree with the green and purple baby figs, came around the corner, the sky a sunset tapestry, and heard the hooves of the horses returning. I saw the form of one against the colors of the sky and was pulled after him, my soul moving outward from my chest.

They ran into a small field and the children of the town ran after them. I couldn't go home, and followed them into the field, only to see one being caught and ridden. They were never really free, these horses. Mastered again, they trotted back to their stable.

As I walked home, it seemed to me that pain and beauty are close neighbors in the soul of man, and I was troubled by the thought.

What did they get Right in Mexico?

Esther posted an interesting statistic in the context of an argument for Jewish Education.

Here's the relevant piece - from Haaretz

In contrast, history teaches that the most salient factor in preserving Jewish identity is an old, unfashionable method: intensive (not necessarily Orthodox) Jewish education, specifically elementary and high-school education. Figures from last year show that in the United States, where only 25 percent of Jewish children are enrolled in Jewish day schools, the proportion of mixed marriages among young couples stands at 54 percent. In Mexico, by contrast, 85 percent of Jewish children study in a Jewish educational framework, and the intermarriage rate among young people is 10 percent.

I'm all for Jewish education (the miserable state of it notwithstanding), but I'm doubting that's what underlies this difference in intermarriage rates.

The major difference between the US community and the Mexican community is Ashkenazi/Sephardi makeup. I would wager (without seeing numbers) that the rates of intermarriage among Sephardim worldwide are much lower than among Ashenazim. The same underlying motivation that sends the kids to Jewish school is what keeps them from intermarrying. I'm all for education, but I'm betting that the Sephardim hold a deeper secret.

I had a Sephardi friend in Yeshiva who claimed that Ashkenazim relate to God as servants, where Sephardim relate to God as children. It's sweeping, but I think there's a kernel of truth in there. A servant either serves or rebels - those are his options. A son has a much wider range of relationship, a wider window of acceptance, a way to be Jewish from wherever he is. Ashkenazim oscillate between building the palace and tearing it down.

I don't know if I've put my finger on the difference, but I believe it's there. Am I right here? What do you think the Sephardi magic sauce is?

13 July 2007

Light in the Desert

Rollin' down to the desert with the PICZ crew, connecting with a reborn elemental Zionism beautiful. Young people looking to settle the outlying areas in the south and north, and moving thousands of people. Students building desert towns with eyes environmental and sentimental to the building that their grandparents did. They set the bar high, these guys. Real investment...

08 July 2007

On Doing Something Worthwhile

I never would have thought that I would have so little time for my own life. I feel like I've been overtaken. How can I tear myself away when there's so much to be done? Since I started learning Torah, I've never been learning less than I am right now - and I'm working for a Yeshiva!

In high-tech, I closed the door to the office, and I was gone. Free to be, and all that. Now - I dream fundraising. It doesn't keep me up (web design keeps me up), but it creeps into my dreams.

I feel like when we have a good solid chunk of capital and a full cadre of students, I'll be able to dream my own dreams again...so send money.

02 July 2007


I broke out in hives while in America. Never happened before. The MIA-MCA thinks I'm allergic to New York.

Creative Zionism

Been hanging out at PICZ - The PresenTense Institute for Creative Zionism these days. Actually, I've been hanging out in New York, meeting with supporters and alumni, but my heart has been at PICZ. I'm back on home turf now, and should be back in the swing of Creative Zionism soon.

Had an interesting thought on what Creative Zionism is, based on the first passage in Rav Kook's Orot. He writes that Israel (writ large) can not be understood as a means to any end, physical or spiritual. It can not be summed up, labeled, identified, or given any expression that meets its actual essence - except through the living, prophetic, creative spirit which rests on the whole Jewish people. I understand that to say that we can only give Israel expression by each of us individually and all of us together coming into our own dynamic creative expressions.