By Leon Symons
December 30, 2009
There are just so many sessions, it is quite difficult at times to know quite where to go. But I changed the habit of a lifetime and made a decision: Should Jews fly to Israel?
This was an eco-debate about the tons of carbon emissions left by Britain's Jews trundling back and forth across the skies to eretz Israel. It was a small session with about 30 people, but the debate was very lively and points were well made. There was something of a divide, with some - but not all - of the younger folk saying they would definitely consider keeping their feet on the ground and some had already done so.
However, some of the older people made the very good point that they had homes and family there, as well as children and grandchildren whom they would see far less often. Panellist Jess Gold caused some hilarity when she said she had received a text from a friend who eschewed the plane and travelled to Israel by coach - and it took six days!
Fellow panellist Rabbi Natan Levy of Shenley United Synagogue said there was the "ideal" and "real". The ideal would be to cut down the number of flights and make going to to Israel a special treat. "However, the spiritual welfare of our children rests on going to Israel. I went post-university and I became religious. Israel is essential for who we are right now and it won't be like that always."
His suggestion was that people visiting Israel should be made aware of what they were doing and then undertake a project or scheme in Israel that would pay back the emissions by planting trees. "There's a lot to be said for going to Israel but there's also a lot to be said for taking care of the world," said Rabbi Levy.