Thinking counter-intuitively about Israel and Dale Farm on Yom Kippur

By Rabbi Aaron Gol...
October 11, 2011

I do not agree with every Orthodox Rabbi on a regular basis but Rabbi Naftali Brawer, whom we know so well from his time at Northwood United Synagogue, is an exception. With great admiration, I read his letter in the Jewish Chronicle that challenged Rabbis to forsake a congregation-pleasing sermon during the High Holy Days - on the “Israel-Palestine conflict,” one that emphasized the “particular and tribal God of Israel who is ‘on our side,’” for one that invokes the universal God, “before whom all lives are precious and worthy of dignity and before whom the tears of a Palestinian child are as distressing as those of a Jewish child.” Such a sermon might not play, “to the gallery by reinforcing our sense of victimhood, righteous indignation, and moral superiority,” but Rabbi Brawer suggests that it “is only through thinking of God in this way that we can begin to appreciate the divine in the other. That is the crucial first step towards peace..”

..Yet and now we get really interesting, are we daring enough with our religious approach of Liberal Judaism? Are these projects already as edgy as we feel comfortable with? Let us use these moments to seriously think. I ask these questions for honest feedback but also to challenge us in our interactions with ‘the other,’ the person, the human being who we do not directly relate to.

Let us consider Travellers, Dale Farm for instance..

..I am interested by our reactions to the Travellers of Dale Farm and those who live all over the UK. They are so obviously not of our Jewish People and their life-style is so discordant with our own that our circles of familiarity are so far apart. If we are to feel affinity to them it would in most respects be counter-intuitive.

Yet I ask myself why we, Jews, need legislation to protect our rights in this country. I wonder why I have an uneasy feeling when rejection of the Human Rights Act is mentioned.

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