Of the many things I had a chance to learn about and discuss during my five days in Washington with AIPAC this week, none seems so timely as the topic of my Shabbat dinner session: “Zionism in Tension with Other Values.” The presenter, Yehuda Kurtzer, is well-known to our Engaging Israel students in his leadership position with The Hartman Institute. The session raised fascinating questions about how and with whom to be in coalition, a topic that became ever more relevant this week for Jews who want to make a positive contribution to the Women’s March movement.
In case you missed it, the latest crisis arose when it was learned that one of the co-presidents of the Women’s March movement continues to applaud one of the world’s most virulent anti-Semites (you can read the news item here). In previous iterations, the moral conflict was raised specifically about the intersection of feminism and Zionism (which, by the way, was an issue for Betty Friedan in 1975 as well). On the surface, this is a political issue: should we or shouldn’t we have any overlap or cooperation with those whose positions offend us, or who decry ours?
But behind every political question is a values question, and when it comes to values, Jewish sources can be a source of guidance as we seek to navigate the mine fields of politics. On Shabbat, Dr. Kurtzer presented two approaches to dealing with the tension. He called them the “moral imperatives” and “moral negotiation” approaches, and he brought authentic Jewish sources and historical examples to support each.
This Shabbat, when we read about the completion of the Mishkan building project, we are reminded of how much work it takes to build sacred space. On Shabbat morning, we’ll see how much work it takes to build sacred community.
Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom,