The uniqueness of my Jewish identity could be one of the reasons conference organizers have invited me to participate. I expect there will be people at the conference who won’t consider me to be a “real” Jew, and that some of the conversations around identity will be difficult for me on a personal level. But I also expect to learn and deepen and grow, maybe a lot—and I recognize the importance of sharing my unique Jewish identity with other Jewish leaders. If we are to expand the Tent, stories like mine need to be told.
Purim’s cathartic effect is remarkable, providing an opportunity for Jewish communities to parody themselves and their own hierarchies and imbue often-serious religious practices with music and merriment (and traditionally, copious amounts of alcohol and silly costumes). It is in many respects a self-conscious parody of the ancient Persian culture in which one of Judaism’s most [...]
A few years ago I was going through a very hard time. I said to my father, “I just want my dignity back!” My father, a Navy survival instructor, replied, “Jenny, no one can take away your dignity! Even if you are hanging by your toes in a prisoner of war camp, your dignity is [...]
The first thing I noticed about the Western Wall is that everybody was crying. I had been lost in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City, and when I rounded the gate above the Wall (the Kotel) the first thing I saw was the sun bouncing off the Dome of the Rock, blinding me in [...]
Today is the first full day in Israel. Jet lag woke me up at 5:45am and I grew restless waiting out the dawn in my twin bed, so I pulled on running shoes and trotted out into the indigo chill. The Sea of Galilee, black then silver then blue, reflected the slowly brightening sky as [...]
I arrived at Gate 6 in Terminal 3 at JFK an hour before departure to Tel Aviv. It was technically yesterday, but due to the flight and the travel I’ve only scraped together some shallow dozes, and the day has gone far past its expiration hour. At the gate there were lots of Orthodox families, [...]
I lived in Indonesia during the summer of 2010. When Indonesians meet someone new, they ask two questions: What is your name? and What is your religion? I was startled one day when a wizened Indonesian grandmother pushed her way up to me and asked these two questions: “Nama Anda siapa? Apa agama Anda?” I [...]
The three boys walked up the road, smiling, sometimes laughing, maybe on their way home, maybe on their way to buy groceries on the other side of the checkpoint. They must have been 10 or 11. A bit older than the seven year-old who would try to sell me cheap bracelets that say “Palestine” later [...]
These past two months living in Jerusalem have been an experience of witnessing the struggle—in this city and in my own heart—between forces that seek to dismember us into discrete parts, and forces that compel us to stand in the suffering and be broken apart. Sometime over the past month my heart broke. I have been living in the sad and tender place, waiting for it to strengthen and heal.
I tend not to comment in print about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. No matter what I might say, it will invariably alienate some as being too sympathetic to Palestinians and others as being too pro-Israeli. But the recent prisoner swap with Gilad Shalit in Israel has provoked something in me that I feel bears mentioning. For [...]