We believe that Israel is at the center of the Jewish narrative and Jewish identity. We understand that our fate as a congregation is linked to our engagement with the State of Israel. We affirm the central Jewish value of love of Israel and are committed to a meaningful relationship with the state and its peoples. We marvel at the wonder of a sovereign nation that has in-gathered its exiles, defended its borders, and moved from pioneering achievements in agriculture to astounding success in high technology. Israel has evolved from a besieged fledgling to a thriving nation that radiates a continuing promise of renewed Jewish culture.
We believe that it is critical to encounter realities about Israel: We need to educate ourselves and to explore our connections to it in order to embrace, to discern, and to help. By creating relationships with the people of Israel who are busy remaking the nation today we can each forge a personal connection to our brothers and sisters there and learn to appreciate the nuances of a complex society. This type of engagement is essential to developing informed stances on the future of Zionism on peace between Israelis and Palestinians, and to help bring about needed social change within Israel. We also strongly support those in Israel who are dedicated to revitalizing and creating new pathways into liberal religious Israeli Judaism, particularly for those who have been alienated by the extent of Orthodox religious and political power in the country.
Through our Department of Israel Engagement we are committed to create rich programming as well as opportunity for conversation about the ever changing landscape of Israeli society and culture. We will continue to pursue various causes to support social action and social justice initiatives in Israel, both as a congregation and as individuals through sponsoring representative speakers as well as through participation, such as the annual Mishloah Manot fundraiser.
UPCOMING ISRAEL PROGRAMMING
Monday, April 16 through Sunday, June 10 | During Community House opening hours | BJ Community House
Over the past two summers, photographer Saskia Bory Keeley partnered with Roots, an initiative now in its fourth year led by a Palestinian and Israeli settler committee who works at the heart of the conflict in the West Bank. Keeley conducted photo workshops exclusively for women who would otherwise have no contact with each other. Developing photographic skills was an important aspect of the program and just as essential was the opportunity for women “from the other side” to interact in a safe setting–many for the very first time in their lives.
Saturday, June 2 | Following kiddush | BJ Chapel
Join us as we honor Chaim Citron, BJ’s beloved security guard and the author of the novel Wings of Hope, as he shares anecdotes from his novel and from his own experience of growing up in the early days of the State of Israel.
Chaim was born in 1951 in Tel Aviv-Yaffo. During his high school years he lived on Kibbutz Givat Haim Ehud, where he studied agricultural mechanics as a trade. At age 18, he was drafted into the Israeli Defense Force and served in the scout-mechanized infantry unit during the War of Attrition with Egypt and in the Yom Kippur War in Syria. Haim has lived in Queens, NY, since 1980, and returns to Israel annually to visit family and friends.
Haim is the proud father of two sons and one granddaughter. For the past 16 years he has worked at BJ as a security guard, where he remains grateful for all the kindness and support he has received from the community.
Sunday, June 3 | 12:15PM | 52nd Street between 5th and Madison Avenues
Join the BJ rabbis and fellow members of the BJ community as we show our support of Israel on its 70th anniversary. Get out your Israeli flag as we walk/sing/rollerblade/push strollers down 5th Avenue. We will be marching as part of a Upper West Side coalition of synagogues. An official parade t-shirt will be provided at the meeting point.