Letter from Rabbi Ezring 1/16/2014

Rabbi Sheldon EzringHi there,

I seem to have been on a bit of a hiatus from writing once again. I love it when one or another of you gives me a jolt and tells me: “I miss your pieces.” Honestly, I sometimes wonder if anyone reads them or if they are just an exercise in mental muscle building for me. I am thrilled when people do both read and respond to my thoughts. It makes me think and lets me know I am helping you to contemplate a topic. Remember I am not looking for agreement. I am hoping to help you to pause and to review a topic, by reading the words of someone who is not a media professional.

Well back to my norm, so let’s go to the weather. Like people throughout the USA we are mystified by what is happening. Extreme cold turns to unexpected warmth. Here we froze for a few days, but now the snow is gone from the ground in Cleveland. I am thankful for all the beautiful air I am breathing in. It may be cold but it is refreshing. Life is a joy. Live everyday of it to the best of your ability and thank God for each beautiful breath.

Book Club: We meet at the home of Mitch and Simone Fromm, 122 North Hayden, Hudson, on Sunday evening the 26th at 7:00PM. The book is Naomi Ragen’s The Sisters Weiss. I am about halfway through and I am enjoying the piece immensely. Even if you do not join us consider reading this novel, which focuses on the cultural differences between Haredi (ultra Orthodox) and Liberal Jews. Sometimes we forget how diverse the cultural divide is between the camps.

Torah Time: I am including a summary of this week’s portion from Torah from Dixie.

Parshat Yitro (Exodus 18:1-20:23) begins with Moses’ father-in-law, Yitro, arriving at the Jewish people’s camp in the desert, where he is greeted warmly by a large entourage. Yitro was inspired to join them when he heard about the wonders and miracles which Hashem performed for the Jewish people during the exodus from Egypt. Upon witnessing Moses serving as the people’s sole judge from dawn until dusk, Yitro declares that this system will never work. He therefore suggests that subordinate judges be appointed to adjudicate the lower cases. Moses agrees to this plan. The Jewish people arrive at Mt. Sinai and prepare to receive the Torah. Moses ascends the mountain and Hashem tells him to convey to the people that they will be to Him a treasure from amongst the nations. After three days of preparation, the appointed moment of revelation finally arrives, and amidst thunder, lightning, and the sound of the shofar, Hashem descends upon the mountain and proclaims the Ten Commandments. Moses then ascends the mountain to receive the remainder of the Torah from Hashem, both the written and oral segments, and the portion concludes with several mitzvot dealing with the construction of the altar in the Temple.

Wow, this has been a tough piece to get out to you. I originally drafted it on Monday. I revised it on Tuesday. When I opened my computer today, I found that even though I had saved the document, 70% of it had gone into vapor land. So I will try again.

I am leaving the Torah Portion behind for now. I feel it is imperative that I share some of my thoughts on Secretary Kerry’s Middle East Peace initiative and the Six Powers/Iran Nuclear Treaty. I am sharing my concerns. I know some of you will disagree with me others will be in accord with my thoughts. What matters I that you read about the issues and then think about them.

Let’s begin with Iran. I am glad that it seems the US Senate will not allow the treaty to go into effect. Still I will really believe that fact when the treaty is voted down in the Senate.

I know nations can make friends of enemies. I know you have to gamble to make peace happen. I know those facts, but….

I DO NOT TRUST THE GOVERNMENT LEADERS OF IRAN, LET ALONE THEIR MORE POWERFUL RELIGIOUS LEADERS TO DESIST FROM PRODUCING WEAPONS-GRADE URANIUM. Since these agreements have been announced, the religious leaders have already said the development of uranium will continue as in the past. Reports quote them as saying such weaponry is necessary to destroy Israel. Certainly, the leadership has shown no real sensitivity to the Nations of the World, except to want to see the present sanctions being imposed on them discontinued.

Media reports, as I write, claim hidden in the agreement is permission for Iran to continue its pursuit of sufficient quality uranium to produce a nuclear weapon. And what do we get in return? We get the opportunity to provide them with the ability to earn $6,000,000,000 in necessary added revenue, which will help them to continue their present antagonistic course.

And even if Iran’s Government signs a treaty, I have learned that some factions of devout Islam believe it is permissible to lie to non-Muslims to further the hegemony of Islam.

Sadly, our administration in its rush to withdraw from war is willing to take any gamble for the dream of bringing Iran back into the community of nations (if there is such a thing).

Baldacci in his latest novel, King and Maxwell, wrote a fictionalized account of a failed attempt to aid those tired of the religious control of Iran in a revolution. Sadly, I believe it is just such an act by the Iranians who are tired of ultra-religious rule that will allow for a real peace accord with Iran.

As for now, I do not believe the accord will not be worth the paper it is written upon. I pray I am wrong for all of our sakes.

Now let me move to Israel and the present peace proposal.

Avigdor Lieberman, the Israeli Foreign Minister, and the leading hawk in the Netanyahu Government, has been quoted as saying that Kerry’s is the best deal that Israel can get. I believe he is wrong because I do not think the present deal is good for Israel.

Prime Minister Sharon, may his memory be for a blessing, originated a series of settlements in the land Israel won through war, to provide a security ring for the tiny Jewish state. Over and over, the world has castigated Israel for continuing to build what have become cities, suburbs of Jerusalem and outlying settlements. The BDS (Boycott, Divest, Sanction) movement is gaining the support of a few college organizations and some European Organizations. Yet those same organizations have not spoken out against the horrors in Syria, or Iran or Egypt or any other Arab nation.

The settlements, especially those that have become cities or suburbs of Jerusalem, are now part of Greater Israel. They are and should remain a part of the Jewish State. Yet, the Palestinians cannot accept such a reality.

The Palestinian demand for a return of refugees to Israel is also a major impediment any peace accord. Yet, Secretary Kerry has posited allowing the return of 80,000 so- called Palestinian refugees. The Palestinians demand at least five times that amount and Israel, rightly from my perspective, cannot harbor the thought of even one returning.

Where should they go? Of course to the areas now called the West Bank and Gaza. Or they could go to the real Palestinian nation, Jordan, but the Hashemite Kingdom does not want to allow them to enter either.

Both Israel and Jordan want the presence of Israeli troops in the Jordan Valley for the foreseeable future to preserve any peace accord. Yet, Kerry offers US and I am willing to bet UN troops as buffering peacekeepers. Sadly, as much as I hate to say it, neither can be relied upon to maintain the peace.

The Palestinians continue to demand a capital in Jerusalem. They continue to push for the return of all of what was East Jerusalem. No Israeli government would or to my mind should deign to give the Palestinians more than a small foothold on the outskirts of Jerusalem as a nominal capital of what will be a Palestinian state.

My friends, fewer and fewer of us support Israel in the way my father did. Many of my Reform Rabbinic Colleagues are in the leadership of calls for peace at almost any cost. I am not the knee jerk supporter of Israel that my father of blessed memory always was. But I am a fervent supporter of Israel, as a Jewish State, that welcomes others of all faiths to worship, to visit and yes to become loyal citizens. I say that knowing that I am an American citizen. Six times I have been to Israel and six times I have had the ability to claim my Jewish right of return, which would give me immediate Israeli citizenship. I have chosen not to do so. I have chosen to maintain only one passport that of the USA.

As such I feel I must end stating that I am disappointed in what I feel to be the shortcoming of the present US administration in regard to its worldview. As much as I support the administration’s liberal social program, I find it to not be as strong internationally as I feel the USA must be. I know many of you will disagree with me, but I still believe the United States of America, for the time being, must remain the policeman to the world. Sadly this administration does not seem to hold that viewpoint.

With all that said let me end on a positive note. I believe we human beings can bring peace to this world. I believe someday that a world of peace and prosperity will reign. I believe that is why we were put on this earth: to complete God’s incomplete work of creation. That means our role as humans is to do ‘tikkun olam’ to correct the wrongs of this world. We can accomplish that goal. We can!

Today, tell someone: I love you!
Today, thank God for your blessings!
Today, find something to laugh about!
Today, try to be a better person than you were yesterday!
Today, do something to help someone else!
Today, learn something new!
Today, and every day Dare to be Happy!!!

Shabbat Shalom,

Rab E

Rabbi Sheldon Ezring