Rabbi Greenspan Sharing From Israel

Our Rabbi Greenspan is in Israel and he is tweeting and writing about his experiences at @haravmark and on our website below.

 

Here are Rabbi Greenspan’s posts from Israel

July 15, 2012

1. Yehudah Kurtzer, Faith and Politics: Through classical and contemporary sources we explored the question of whether faith has a role to play in the political arena. The problem is, of course, that as soon as we introduce God into political and social questions we are danger of absolutism, such as we see in fundamentalism. Judaism teaches us to approach the question of God in the public space with humility. Classical Judaism offers a corrective for the danger of absolutism. We speak of God being hidden from us, of God praying for His justice not to overwhelm His sense of mercy – these sources are a reminder that we need to be God’s hands in the world and not zealots for His cause. This particular true when it comes to Zionism. When we see God’s hand in history it immediately changes our relationship to politics – it has political outcomes, as we see in Israel today. It is for this reason that Professor Hartman would question whether we should speak of Israel as the beginning of our redemption – such language is dangerous.

2. Micah Goodman, Monotheism and Power: While Maimonides is sometimes criticized for interpreting the bible in ways that are not according to their literal sense, he really carries the ideas of the Bible to their logical conclusion. He understood Paganism not simply as the worship of idols but the idealization of power. This accords with Y Kaufman, one of the leading Bible scholars of the last generation, the essence of monotheism is not simply that God is one Echad but that God is Miyuchad, completely other from this world. Pagans associated the gods with the sources of power in the universe; in a sense they projected their own self images of power and control into the realm of the divine. God of Israel is something more, beyond knowledge and knowing. In his Guide for the Perplexed, Moses, in his encounter with God after the Golden Calf, asks two things of God – Show me your glory and Show me your way. Maimonides argues that we can know God’s ways through his actions in the world but we can never know God glory – his essence. God is beyond the realm of the natural world. In pagan thought magic can affect the gods because they are subject to the same rule of nature as we are – they are born, they die, they eat, they have passions. Goodman: “Negative theology (this is the claim that we cannot say what God IS; only what God is not) creates a certain type of religious experience but it does not create certainty… Religion at its best helps you accept your lack of certainty…and lack of control….When you hit the boundaries of your understanding you come to faith – by being aware that there is something beyond the boundary.” He asked: Where do we channel uncertainty – what type of life does it create?

3. Micah Goodman, Redeeming Personalities: The idea that we are created in the image of God is not unique to the Bible – it already appears in pre-biblical traditions. What is unique about the Biblical idea is that all human beings are created in the image of God. In the pagan world, the king or priest was described as a reflection of the divine image; not the rest of the people. So from the perspective of the Bible, we are created in God’s image but we are far from God – maybe that is why the characters of the Bible are so flawed. Much of this class was spent studying the story of David – Israel’s greatest hero but one of the most flawed characters: David and Bathsheba, Amnon and Tamar and the story of Abshalom. Goodman: “When you read the bible you don’t experience an ethical gap between ourselves and the bible characters – it is a book about us! But it also cultivates and admiration of the characters as well – of imperfect people. Monotheism teaches us that God is one beyond this world – will not find it in this world. Monotheism is against the seduction of perfection. Not Plato, it is telling story about David – even though he is not perfect we accept him. The bible is about the failure of human being – yet we still admire them. We deal with the failures

4. Donniel Hartman, Do I have to believe in God to be a God Jew? There is something uniquely Jewish about this question. It would make no sense to a Moslem and a Christian would think it is simply silly. Judaism, on the other hand, is something more than a faith tradition. We are tied to Judaism by our people. What is more the Talmud says, Jew who sins is still considered to be a Jew. Hartman explored this question by asking three related question. Can one be a Jew without believing in god? Can one be a good person without faith in God? And finally, what is the connection between religion and morality? To the first two questions, Rabbi Hartman answered yes, unequivocally. One can be a Jew without God and one can certainly be a good person without faith in God. To the third question, Hartman would say that should be a connection between the two. But this really does address the bigger question. While one can be a Jew and a decent person, Judaism and our faith challenges us to strive for greatness and not just minimal identity. The other question is how one defines faith and what sources in our tradition speak most prominently to the individual – and this is a personal quest.

5. “Tiyulim” – Each year the Hartman Institute devotes one day to special outings that in some way are related to the theme of our program. Marilyn and I chose to go on special tour of Tel Aviv, entitled “Shifting Identities in a multi-identity society.” What we learned through a series of encounters is just how diverse Jewish identity is in a place like Tel Aviv. Though we think of TA as the secular heart of Israel, there is a great deal of exploration of faith issues, Jewish identity, and tradition going on even here. Our day began at Yakar, an orthodox synagogue that is very open to people of all backgrounds and a ideologies. (By the way I attend Yakar in Jerusalem, but that is for another time.) We then visited HaMakom, a kind of secular Beit Midrash that encourages the exploration of our tradition through the arts and other media. We met with Adi Nes, an amazing photographer who spoke to us about how his art has allowed him to explore the themes of the Torah. At Lunch, we met with Dov Elboim, a TV personality and author who grew up in the Haredi community and has become a secular Jew. Finally we visited Fishka, a Jewish center for young Russian speaking Israelis – many of whom are not Halachically Jewish.

6. Finally, we had the opportunity to learn about the political issues affecting Israel today. One evening Dan Meridor spoke to us about, “Political Change in the State of Israel.” And one afternoon we went to the Keneset where we met with various members of the Keneset and had a chance to learn about a wide variety of different issues as well as the political parties. We broke up into small groups and met with members of the various parties. Marilyn and I met with Dov Hennin, who is a member of Hadash, the only Arab-Israeli party in the Keneset.

7. This is just a taste of the rich learning and dialogue that I participated in while in Israel this summer. Best of all was the chance to study with other rabbis of all denominations and discover what we have in common. A special thank you to the members of OJC and to my associate rabbi, Aviva Fellman for giving me the opportunity to continue my learning and personal growth. I hope that I can bring the spirit of learning and the beit midrash to OJC again this year.

Emailed from Ben Gurion Airport, Sunday, July 15, 2012. This is so cool!!!

July 13, 2012

Rabbi Greenspan’s latest post is a photo and a poem. You can see them here.

July 8, 2012

Dear Friends:

In an effort to share my studies with you, here is a synopsis of last week’s classes at the Hartman institute. Hartman runs the Rabbinic Torah Study Seminar (RTS) each summer for English speaking rabbis from North American and from around the world. There are about 160 rabbis studying at Hartman this summer from North America, Israel and even from Australia. This is the 29th year that they are running the program (my third time here). 

1. The theme of the Torah study program at the Shalom Hartman Institute this summer was “The Dilemmas of Faith and Spirituality in the Modern World.” For two weeks 160 rabbis gathered for text study, lectures and dialogue on one of the fundamental questions of Jewish life (and one might say, of modern life) today: What does it mean ‘to have faith’ in the contemporary world and what should we as Jews living after the Holocaust believe? Each day began with 2 ½ hours of Havruta study followed by a lecture/discussion presented by a leading Jewish scholar. We then broke up into small groups of about 10-15 people to process what we had just learned. After a lunch we were given a variety of different electives from which we could choose. In the evenings there were public lectures given. Among the speakers were Donniel Hartman, Yitz Greenberg, Dan Meridor, Art Green andDavid Meridor.

For those unfamiliar with the term, Havruta study is a method of study in which one sits with one or two partners reading a text (usually out loud) and wrestling with its meaning. Imagine being in a room with a hundred and fifty rabbis all sitting around arguing with one another in small groups. This method of teaching is often used in Yeshivot and it is a powerful experience because one not only learns but one learns how to listen. Each day the texts that we studied were assigned by the lecturer for that day and were as diverse as the bible, the Talmud, Hasidic literature, secular Israeli poetry and William James.

2. Our study program began with a question posed by Donniel Hartman, president of the Hartman Institute: why is faith a dilemma in our age and why is it so difficult for us to believe as moderns? Rabbi Hartman began by offering a surprising answer. Faith is a dilemma because God has changed! Quoting the social commentator Peter Berger, he said: “For pre-modern man heresy is a possibility. For modern man heresy becomes a necessity.” Unlike our ancestors, we live in world where we are constantly making choices: what we eat, where we live, and what we believe. Today, even gender is a choice that people can make. Religion, then, is not a given but just another choice that we make. He spoke about Berger’s concept of Plausibility Structures: faith is built upon the notion of plausibility and plausibility is in turn supported by social structures. In our contemporary world, the existence of the sacred becomes less plausible and there are many other social structures that are not built on the idea of the sacred.

Faith is a dilemma for us as moderns because we live within a different system of thinking in which the sacred is neither rational nor reasonable. Rabbi Hartman went on to explore the writings of Maimonides – the ultimate Jewish rationalist and scientist. He believed that the best science of his day was Aristotle – and yet Aristotle suggested that the universe was eternal, it always existed. How could Maimonides reconcile this with the beginning of Genesis – “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” He would have argued that the bible may not be rational but it is plausible.

Hartman posited making a distinction between the rational and the reasonable. The rational is what is objectively true while the reasonable is what is true for me. Should faith be based on the reasonable and not necessarily the rational? He asked us: How do we build a religious life in which the path of faith is completely rational and reasonable? He suggested the following principles in developing a modern faith:

Depends on who you are

Removing the unreasonable

Creating a new type reasons for commandments.

Coming up with a new reason not for us but for God.

3. Our second lecture and study period was presided over by Moshe Halbertal. In addition to be a leading profession of Jewish thought, Halbertal was one of the authors of the ethical standards for warfare that are applied by the Israeli Army. His lecture was entitled: Three concepts of faith. Instead of assigning us Jewish text for our study period, Professor Halbertal had us read an essay by William James, author of the classic work, Varieties of Religious Experience.

Halbertal suggested that we must begin by differentiating between two different questions: the content of faith and the act of believing. He suggested that there are three types of faith implied by the word emunah (liha’amin), as it is used in the bible. Each is relevant for how we think about the role of faith in our lives.

· The first is to “believe that” – this implies that faith is based around propositional statements and focuses on the content of faith

· The second concept is “to believe to. This is closer to James concept of faith. Faith is not based on beliefs but a willingness to act. “to believe in something is not to believe that it is true. It is the capacity act a meaningful action that is irreversible based on a mere hypothesis. The willingness to act without certainty. This is the meaning of faith in the case of Abraham – he leaves home and sets out to follow God – without proof or certainty. It is closer to what the philosopher Crescas suggested – he argued that there is no mitzvah to believe because it must inevitably be a choice. You cannot make people believe.

· Finally the third type of faith is “Faith as.” Faith is an expression of identity. It is compartmentalized. As a Jew, I believe….. but as a scientist I might believe something all together different.

Finally, Halbertal ended by suggesting that the crisis today is Not a loss of faith but a loss of meaning. When we lose the way of life then the faith falls apart as well. So the question we need to ask is not is the torah true but, Is the life of Torah meaningful?

4. Israel Knohl, a Bible Scholar at Hebrew University gave a talk entitled, Our God is One: The Dangers and the Hopes of Biblical Monotheism. Professor Knohl began by reading a letter written by Mohammed Atta to the other 9-11 terrorists in which he called on them to affirm their faith and to recite the Arabic state God is One, one thousand times as they carried out their terrible act. He explored the question of how monotheism might be responsible for religious violence as well as they oppression of woman. But he then suggested that while the roots of violence and sexism can be traced to the Bible, there are also efforts in the bible to address these issues and provide a corrective for the dark side of religion

One does not have to look very far to confront violence in the Bible. In the story of the Golden Calf, Moses calls on those who are faithful to God to kill their sons and their fathers who have worshipped the Golden Calf. Yet in other prophetic verses such as Isaiah 2, and Micah 4 faith is God is open, tolerant and a source of peace.

Similarly, the focus on the oneness of God led our ancestors to premise a world in which God has no partner or consort. This had far reaching implication for how they saw sexuality and how they viewed women. Yet in the later prophets we find the use of the feminine for God as a kind of corrective for this absence of feminine earlier in the Bible.

For Knohl, the god has many different voices and one cannot simply listen to some and ignore the others. He suggested that the Bible can be a dangerous book if one chooses to listen to only some of the voices

5. Wednesday our teacher was Rachel Korazim: Faith After the Holocaust: A perspective from Israeli literature. I am not sure that I can really summarize this amazing lecture. What we saw is that confronting the Holocaust is a major them of Israel literature, both for the generation after the Holocaust and for the contemporary generation which still feels the effects of the Holocaust on their life. Reading Poetry by Dan Pagis, Amir Gilboa and Avner Trainin we saw how contemporary poets and authors used images from the Torah to wrestle with the Holocaust. Even for secular Jews, Torah became the common language for confronting evil and genocide. For more contemporary authors like David Grossman, Amir Gutfreund and others the issues are different – they have to do with family, national identity and personal id.

6. Melilah Helener-Eshed explored issues of spirituality in her class, Practicing Faith. Using poetry, Hasidic writings, and contemporary writers, we explored faith not as a goal but a process. This class focused around a quote by the Baal Shem Tov: “Nothing – big or small – is separate from God because God exists in all existences. Therefore, the complete person can bring unity to the upper worlds even in earthly acts such as eating, drinking and sexual intercourse, business and in one’s mundane talk with friends.” Faith then is not a set of beliefs as much as it is a practice in which one learns how to find God in the small things. We studied a powerful passage from the teachings of rabbi Nachman of Bratzlav in which he speaks about how we can often find God in the obstacles just as Moses found God when he allowed himself to enter “into the thick cloud…” Rabbi Nachman, God hides Himself in the darkness so that we can find Him….

July 5, 2012

An Evening with Rabbi Yitz Greenberg

This evening we had the privilege of hearing Rabbi Yitz Greenberg speak at the Hartman institute. Rabbi Greenberg is a respected if not controversial theologian and Orthodox rabbi. He serve as the rabbi of the Riverdale Jewish Center, as associate professor of history at Yeshiva University, and as a founder, chairman, and professor in the department of Jewish studies of the CUNY. He has also served as the President of the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership. Rabbi Greenberg is married to the Jewish feminist, Blu Greenberg.

Rabbi Greenberg’s topic was “On Being a Rabbi in a Post-Rabbinic Age.” With great integrity and a willingness to address issues that make many traditional rabbis uncomfortable, he took a hard look at the nature of Judaism and Jewish leadership in the next generation. Unlike many of his Orthodox colleagues, he speaks to all of us whatever denomination we may belong to.

Rabbi Greenberg began by speaking of the distressing changes taking place in the contemporary North American Jewish community: the decline of the synagogue and the status of the rabbi, as well as the general secularization of the Jewish community. But Rabbi Greenberg went on to say that he did not see these changes as necessarily bad – they represent a challenge as we enter the new era in Jewish life. For Rabbi Greenberg, this may very well be part of “God’s plan.” He believes that we need to move away from centralized power because inevitably power leads to abuse. We need to rethink our role as rabbis and what it means to serve as a rabbi in the twenty first century.

For Rabbi Greenberg, the core of Judaism and its impact on the world has grown out of its fundamental message of Covenant and Tikkun Olam. For Judaism, the creation of the universe is not a random act; it was created and it has order, purpose and direction. This was true from the emergence of the first cell creatures billions of years ago to the present moment. The world is a product of God who is a caring and involved creator who planted in us a desire for perfection and to enhance life. As a result, we are constantly moving toward life, and are given the opportunity to become more God-like through our action.

Those qualities also cause God to enter into a Covenant with us so that we become partners with God in perfecting the world. Judaism is a messianic religion which predicts that we are constantly striving for a perfected world which celebrates life. In order to make this possible, God must limit God’s self so that we have the space and ability to create and affirm this messianic vision. In addition this vision has influenced Christianity, Islam and is a crucial part of the vision of modernity. He believes that we are at a turning point in which human beings are called on to create a world,

  1. In which every person is seen as having infinite value
  2. In which we are all equal in the eyes of God
  3. In which we affirm the uniqueness of each person.

Rabbi Greenberg speaks of three covenantal periods in Jewish (and world) history: the Biblical, the Rabbinic and the third period which we are now entering. In each period the covenant between God and human beings was shaped by the extent to which human beings and God each took responsibility for the world.

In the Biblical period, God intervenes in human events to bring about salvation. The Exodus from Egypt is the paradigm of this. The understanding of the relationship between God and human beings is that when we obey God’s will God saves us and when we rebel we are punished. The leadership of this period is priestly – chosen by God and DNA rather than by the community.

In the rabbinic period, following the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem, halachah replaces divine intervention. In a sense God becomes more hidden. Prophecy ensd and miracles ceases. But rather than a punishment, God’s withdrawal is an attempt to make room for us to be more active in the world. God was hidden but not absent. In this period we discerned the will of god by studying God’s teachings and living by God’s laws. Rabbis became the leaders in that they would learn and teach God’s lessons as contained in Torah. Still in this period there was a belief that salvation would result from the observance and faithful adherence to God’s law.

We now enter the third period with a new type of covenantal paradigm. What does it mean to be a Jew after the Holocaust? In a sense God has become even more hidden in the third Covenantal period. God has withdrawn from history and left the world in our hands. It is not enough simply to observe God’s law but we must expand God’s law by bringing holiness into every aspect of our lives: not just the synagogue and the home but the workplace, government, and recreation. Torah should not separate us from the world but become a means of instilling the values of tikkun olam in every aspect of life.

Greenberg contrasts Passover with Purim: Passover is about God redeeming us and Purim is about God’s absence so that we are called on to take initiative to redeem ourselves. We still have a mandate to live a Jewish life but we are equally responsible to encourage human initiative in creating a moral and life affirming world.

It is against this back ground that we must define our work as Rabbis. If God is hidden in the world than it is our job to make God’s presence manifest. This will not be an age of miracles or revelations but an age of Kiddush Hashem, in which we will find the sacred in the secular and every day. Kashrut, for instance, should not be just about kosher and non-kosher food but a means of promoting justice, sustaining the world and maintaining dignity for all people. Prayer should not be about begging for miracles from God, but inspiring people to take initiative and changing the world. And where Jewish law is morally questionable we have a responsibility to find ways to make changes without throwing it out. We are living in an age when we must find holiness in the secular. In a sense we have to finish what God started. Rabbis will influence the world not just by teaching but by setting an example for others.

Rabbi Greenberg spoke about some of the radical implications his vision. One can’t help but admire him as a man of great courage and integrity. He is truly a prophet in the best sense of the word: not a man who predicts the future but a man who has a vision to change the future!!

 

July 1, 2012

Just a quick note as I prepare to leave for my first day of classes at the Hartman is my second year studying at Hartman and I am really looking forward to two weeks of intense study with colleagues from all over North America. The Shalom Hartman Institute (SHI) describes itself as “a center of transformative thinking and teaching that addresses the major challenges facing the Jewish people and elevates the quality of Jewish life in Israel and around the world. A leader in sophisticated, ideas-based Jewish education for community leaders and change agents, SHI is committed to the significance of Jewish ideas, the power of applied scholarship, and the conviction that great teaching contributes to the growth and continual revitalization of the Jewish people.” They run a variety of programs for rabbis, educators and lay leaders, and bring together Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist and non-denominational Jews.

This year’s theme for the rabbinic study program focuses on questions of faith and belief. The opening lecture to be delivered by Donniel Hartman is “The Challenge of the Rational and the Reasonable.” Throughout the week we will have the opportunity to study with some of the leading Jewish scholars in Israel and North America. For me however, the best thing is the opportunity to spend two or three hours each morning sitting in a Beit Midrash studying Torah. We begin the day in Havruta study, with groups of two or three people studying texts. This is followed by a lecture given by one of the scholars, and followed by discussion groups on the lecture for that day. We then have lunch followed by electives and evening lectures.

I hope to share some of my learning with you in coming days. In the meantime, I want to let you know that I am now tweeting each day about Israel, my experiences and current events – so I encourage you to sign up at Twitter.com so you can follow my tweets (see above). It is a simply thing to do and a chance to here daily updates from Israel.

 

June 27, 2012

I can’t quite believe that a week and a half has passed since we arrived here. We have spent the past week wandering around Jerusalem and beyond, meeting fascinating people and enjoying the wonders of this country. This is the first time that we (my sister, brother-in-law, Marilyn and I) are in Israel together so it has been a chance for us to show one another our favorite places and people in this city.

I’d like to share just a few details of our encounters and adventures. We arrived in Israel on Monday June 18th via Madrid where we had a two hour stop-over. As I sat in the airport I wondered what my ancestors would have thought – they were expelled from Spain in 1492. Here I am waiting freely to board a plane for Israel.

I don’t think there is much that we haven’t done or seen in Jerusalem. Still, there are so many places to which we gladly return: the home of Eliezer ben Yehudah, the father of modern Hebrew language, the German Colony where there are enough kosher restaurants for us to visit daily for the next month, Mahaneh Yehudah, the Jewish market place in down town Jerusalem, and Yoel Solomon, a trendy little street of new artisans and old buildings.

Last Thursday, went to the Kotel where Marilyn and Bonni joined the women at the wall for Rosh Hodesh services. Steve and I sat on the other side of the Mehitzah, listening s the women davened and singing along with them. The men at the Kotel barely noticed the women praying in Tallitot. When we prepared to move to Robinsons Arch, however, one woman was detained by the police for wearing a black and white tallit. Apparently, women can now wear tallitot; they just can’t wear the tallit in the fashion of men. Anat Hofman , founder of WOW proclaimed this a victory! The one arrestee was detained for a short while and told she could not come to the Kotel for one week. Apparently this simple slap on the wrist was a way to placate the Orthodox rabbinate.

Maybe the best thing is that we’re back in Kiryat Shemuel, the same neighborhood we’ve been in the past two weeks. We love this neighborhood; it has everything we need: supermarket, laundromat, a place with take-out food, a pharmacy, a cute little café, two book stores and a bank. There are several synagogues in the neighborhood though I certainly wouldn’t call this a “religious” neighborhood. We can also walk easily downtown or to German colony from our apartment.

Do you know why the German colony is called the German Colony? The neighbor was founded by Christian Templars in the 19th century. It is easy to recognize their homes: many of the doorways have quotes in German from the Hebrew Bible over the doors! The Templars lived in this area until the outbreak of WWII when they were expelled by the English. Up until them they even had Hitler Youth in the neighborhood!

As always, Israel is in a constant state of crisis and renewal. The chief Sephardic rabbis have been calling Conservative and Reform rabbis “clowns” and even nastier names in response to the recent decision by the government to begin paying salaries for non-pulpit rabbis. The tent that housed the protest on behalf of Gilad Shalit near the Prime Minister’s house and it has been replaced by a table for Ethiopian Jews who are fighting for equal rights. And just the other day several Haredi men were arrested for spray painting anti-Israel and anti-Semitic graffiti at Yad Vashem. You read that correctly: they wrote: “If Hitler did not exist, the Zionists would have invented him.” Life is booming both here and in Tel Aviv, but some say there is a looming Intifada on the horizon. So depending who you ask things are really good or terribly bad….

We just returned from a short trip to Evn Yehudah and Tel Aviv. Even Yehudah is a small town just outside Netanyah. The Community Center there has a special relationship with the Friedberg Jewish Community Center in Oceanside. Recently a group of residents from EY visited our community and we were fortunate enough to host several during their brief stay in New York. Evn Yehudah and Oceanside are also the homes of Sunrise Camp, a day camp for children with cancer and their siblings. The Friedberg JCC started this amazing program and then brought it to Israel. The people at the Community Center were thrilled to welcome us and two of our guests were our hosts. We had a wonderful time and they even arranged for a visit at the Netanyah Fire Station where I was taken up nine stories in a Fire Truck ladder! By the way, Evn Yehudah is named after Eliezer ben Yehudah, the father of Modern Hebrew. “Evn” stands for Eliezer (the aleph) plus BEN.

Yesterday we met up with Bonni and Steve in Tel Aviv where we visited Independence Hall and attended a showing of an amazing show called Nalaga’at. This was my third time at independence hall but I am moved to tears each time as I listen to the guide tell the story of the founding of the state and we hear Ben Gurion pronounce the founding of the Jewish State to be called Israel. Notice – he does not say the state of Israel but the JEWISH state which will be called Israel. We then rose and together with the members of a birthright group sang HaTikva.

Nalaga’at is an amazing theater in the old city of Jaffa. It means “Please touch.” The theater presents a play in which all the principle actors are both blind and/or deaf! The group puts on a play during which the actors bake bread and tell their stories and speak of their dreams. At the end of the show, the audience (well over 300) is invited to come up on the stage to eat the bread and greet the actors. Now that is what I call “Inclusion!” There is also a restaurant at Nalaga’at called the Blackout café. You enter a room that is absolutely dark guided by a blind waiter or waitress and eat your meal in the dark. I mean dark dark – you cannot even see your hand in front of your face!

Finally, this morning we went downtown to a small art gallery which also the home of a man named Yoram Amir and his family. It is called Shodedi Yam, literally, Sea Pirates. It is actually a word play: Yam is the abbreviation for Jerusalem, so it means pirates or looters of the City. Yoram, a photographer, has begun collecting window frames and bits of architectural material from Jerusalem’s old buildings, in an effort to save the charm of old Jerusalem. He uses them as frames for his photographs. But his bigger project is as an activist – to save the unique character of western Jerusalem from the Ottoman and Mandate periods. To read more about this project check out this link to an article in the Jerusalem Report.

I could go on but that is all for now. I love being here and I am looking forward to starting my studies at the Hartman Institute next week. In the meantime I wish you all, Shabbat Shalom.