Tikkun Olam, Obama Style

Obama can’t win for losing, at least with right-leaning Americans and Israelis. He’d barely finished his speech to AIPAC this morning when the pundits were all over him—despite his being interrupted by applause many times by thousands of Israel supporters.

He defended his record of deeds, not just words, on behalf of Israel. My wife thought this was undignified, but he is running for re-election, Continue reading

Bris

Tensions are high, with Iran bombing Israeli diplomats and flaunting its nuclear progress, and Israeli experts split over what to do. Also, there is the threat from within—the ultra-Orthodox zealots who mirror both the fanatics of other religions and the Zealots of old who, by dividing Israel, helped its enemies destroy it.

But just now I’m occupied closer to home. My first grandchild was born in the small hours of January 27. So (by invitation) I attended my first daughter’s birth and decades later that of her first child.

Continue reading

Awake Deborah, Awake and Sing!

On my short, intense trip to Israel just before Thanksgiving, I tried to sense the mood of the country. Shortly after my six-week stay in May and June, the “tentifada” protests swept the country, decrying income inequality. By November that had settled down and people were mulling plans to close the gap, although young doctors around the country were on strike.

Meanwhile, ultra-Orthodox extremists had burned mosques and defaced Christian and Muslim cemeteries with their “price tags.” Continue reading

In Israel Again

I’m sitting on the porch of the home of my friends the Selas, in Binyamina, south of Haifa, gazing out on the garden they created, which has a semi-tropical feel despite the chill in the air. A breeze stirs the eucalyptus branches and agitates, just a bit, the huge palm leaves—although Pazit says they are small this year. We breakfasted on persimmons and pears from the garden, which also yields grapefruit, lemons, and figs after their kind.

A dog starts barking steadily outside the fence as an old tabby strolls leisurely between the dog and me. Apart from that reminder that the dog doesn’t always lie down with the cat, you would not guess from this peaceful scene that Israel lives under a looming nuclear threat, that extremes of inequality only two decades old have frayed the social fabric and sent hundreds of thousands into the streets, that rockets from Gaza still rain down on kibbutzim and cities in the south, and that the West Bank, very near where I sit, could soon become a source of the same kinds of attacks.

I’m here for an intense week of lectures, visiting friends, and, as always, plotting my next visit. This trip was funded by a grant to the Schechter Institute for Jewish Studies in Jerusalem, for a conference on “Judaism in Evolutionary Perspective.” I gave the keynote and closing addresses, one on the evolution of religion and religious (including Jewish) practices, the other on the evolution of mating systems, including Jewish patterns of sex and marriage, Biblical and beyond. Before that, upon arriving, I drove straight from Ben Gurion Airport to Ben Gurion University and made it just in time for my own talk on “The Jewish Body.”

I’d lectured around Israel many times, but this was the first time I was asked to speak on Jewish themes. I warned my hosts that I was bringing coals to Newcastle, or maybe olives and dates to the Holy Land, but they said I bring a diaspora perspective, which they need here. I didn’t reply that almost half the Jews in Israel came from the diaspora, but in any case the lectures seemed well received. My Hebrew is still only good enough to apologize (I hope graciously) for having to lecture in English, but as I told them, their English is a lot better than my Hebrew. At the Schechter, I was simultaneously translated into Hebrew. The audiences seemed engaged and the people who invited me seemed very pleased; I guess that’s about all I could ask for.

As I announced to the group at Schechter on Thursday, it was my mother’s Yahrzeit, and she would have been very happy to have seen me there. Since she was deaf and the lectures were academic, she could not have understood them in any language, but she would have been glowing nonetheless. In the morning I had walked from hotel to Kotel with the sun just coming up over Jerusalem and said Kaddish for her in a minyan at the Western Wall. We had another minyan in the afternoon (women counted this time) during a break at the conference, the service led by Rabbi Arnold Goodman, who was my rabbi for many years in Atlanta. A very moving experience.

Despite the summer protests, things do not seem much changed here from when I left in June. The cabinet adopted a report recommending changes stimulated by the protests; some think it’s inadequate, some it’s a step forward. People are debating that, as well as the wisdom of exchanging a thousand Palestinian prisoners (including terrorists) for one kidnapped soldier; whether to try to pre-empt Iran’s nuclear program with an air attack, if that is even possible; how much to push for peace with the Palestinians now that they have made their (failed) bid for unilateral recognition by the UN, and Hamas and Fatah have joined hands again; and so on. There seems to be a consensus here that the vast uncertainties of the “Arab Spring”— brutality in Syria, ongoing troubles in Egypt, questions about the new Libya, and so on—make this a good time to watch and wait.

The young doctors are on strike and may be punished or forced to go back to work by court order. Arguments abound as always (two Jews, three arguments). The secular Jews at least seem pretty pessimistic, but the believers, even the Conservative Jews of the Schechter Institute and its network, do not. Life goes on for everyone in this dynamic and creative society, even the Arab-Israelis who never get their fair share, even the Palestinians who are sorely oppressed by Israel and by the intransigence and incompetence of their own leadership. Investment and technology are slowly improving conditions. Much more needs to be done.

Yesterday I met a wise, soft-spoken, 70-ish psychologist who just decided to spend the last phase of his life promoting and teaching non-violent strategies for social movements bringing about change. May there be more like him, and may they foster equality and peace. As Rabbi Tarfon said, “It is not up to you to complete the work, but neither are you free to desist from it.” I take the long view, and I see reason to hope.

Jewish Fanatics Are Israel’s Worst Enemies

Two days after Yom Kippur, I still hear the haunting melodies, the plaintive, minor-key supplications, as much the expressions of human longing to feel close to God as literal pleas of hungry sinners for forgiveness.

Certain lines keep coming back. Atah b’khartanu mikol ha’amim–You chose us from all the nations—is one. But I always think of the punch-line that follows in the Yiddish proverb: Vus hostu zikh ongezetst oyf undz?—What did you have against us?? And then of course, the passage from the Shmoneh Esray, repeated at least seven times in twenty-six hours: V’tekhezena ayneynu b’shuvkha l’Tzion b’rakhamim—May our eyes behold your return to Zion in mercy.

I was born two years before the Jewish state, and I grew up both intoning that prayer and beholding the fruit of its repitition, of eighteen centuries of yearning. At a minimum, I beheld the return of the Jewish people, or at least a huge part of it, from exile—the answer to another prayer: V'korev p'zurenu miben hagoyim, unefutsotenu kanes miyarktey aretz—And gather us from among the nations, and collect our scattered ones from the ends of the earth.

About five hundred thousand Jews in the year I was born, more than five million today. From Morocco, Yemen, Poland, Russia, England, Australia, South Africa, Ethiopia, India, China, Argentina, Canada, the United States, to name a few. But if God has also returned to Zion, I have to say it is not always in mercy; in fact, it can be with a vengeance.

Consider three episodes of the past ten days. On October 1, a mosque was torched in an Arab village in northern Galilee, by right-wing Jews. President Shimon Peres visited the village, Tuba Zanghariya, to declare his solidarity with the people, and his shame. “There is

not one Israeli who is not ashamed,” he told them. But obviously this is not true.

On the walls of the mosque that survived the fire were the Hebrew words, “Revenge,” and “price tag.” There were also references to Asher Hillel Palmer, who had been killed with his baby son a month earlier. Two Palestinians had thrown rocks at their car, which then went off the road and turned over.

“According to the Torah, there is a need for collective punishment,” said the Chief Rabbi of Kiryat Arba, the West Bank settlement the Palmers were from. So, not surprisingly, some so-called Jews imposed collective punishment on a whole Bedouin community far from the scene of that killing. Nice touch, the “price tag” metaphor; way to remind the world of one of the most durable stereotypes about Jews.

Next, on the very eve of Yom Kippur, in ancient, peaceful Jaffa, two adjacent cemeteries, one Muslim, one Christian, were viciously vandalized. Gravestones were covered with grafitti—sound familiar, fellow Jews? “Mavet la’Aravim”—“Death to the Arabs”—were among the scrawlings desecrating the tombs. And, oh yes: “Price tag.”

Are the perpetrators the scum of the earth or very ardent Jews? Hint: They are both.

As for the third incident, the perps aren’t making us guess who they are. They are standing in broad daylight in their black ultra-Orthodox uniforms vandalizing the hearts and minds of little girls. Jewish girls. Orthodox Jewish girls, on their way to school, a school our friends the black hats don’t approve of. So the girls run the gantlet every day. They have stones and tomatoes and feces thrown at them by these men of God. They wake up with bad dreams in the night. And the next morning, before they leave for school, they ask their mothers, “Are they still there?”

Yes, dear. They are there. Yes, they will yell at you, terrible things, again and again. Yes, again, they will throw disgusting things, they will try to force their way past police officers and soldiers so they can get closer to you and scream their obscenities louder, right in your ears. No, dear, I cannot stop them. No, I don’t know why they hate you. Yes, I am sorry, but you still have to go to school.

Like those little girls, Israel lives in a dangerous neighborhood, surrounded by the holier-than-thou, God’s warriors. Hamas and Hizbollah perpetrate and threaten violence every day. Turkey now supports them and yells curses in Israel’s ear. Egypt, in the wake of its revolution, is crushing Coptic Christians under tanks. Syria, in the course of its own, is slaughtering its citizens by the hundreds. And Iran, whose main export is terror, is threatening Israel with complete annihilation.

Yet the greatest danger will likely come from Jewish fanatics within. They are the fifth column, the undermining insiders, the rotten canker in the core. They are our Al-Qaeda. They are on the side of the enemies of the Jews. They are enemies of the Jews.

If you read the history of the fall of the Second Temple, the destruction of Jerusalem, and the exile of the Jews from their home for two millennia, you will find the same undermining rot in the core, the same internal enemies of our people. They weakened us. They made the external enemies victorious.

Today they are the best friends of Iran and Hamas and Hizbollah, the time-warped, mirror-image-heirs of fanatics of other faiths who tormented our people throughout history. If they prevail, Israel is doomed. And they call themselves Jews.

Uncertainties

Much has happened since I left Israel in June.

First, the feared Gaza flotilla redux fizzled just outside the Greek harbor. Thanks to Israeli diplomacy, Greece sent its Navy out to turn the boats back as they set out to sea. Apparently, struggling Greece now needs Israel more than it needs left-wing sentimentalists who think they are helping the Gazan people but are mainly helping Hamas.

Or perhaps it’s Turkey’s anti-Israel animus that is pushing Greece toward Israel. The prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, years ago began a determined, deliberate weakening of relations with the Jewish state. Among other things, he publicly insulted Shimon Peres by walking out on him at Davos before a large, distinguished audience, to protest Israel’s 2009 war in Gaza.

Things worsened after Israeli commandos killed nine activists, mostly Turkish, after boarding a ship in the last flotilla approaching Gaza. The Israelis defended themselves with guns against an attack with clubs and other crude weapons. Turkey (where the flotilla was partly organized) demanded an apology and reparations, and Israel tried to negotiate a compromise.

But last month the UN’s Palmer Report on the incident was leaked. It criticized Israel for excessive use of force, but it also declared the Israeli blockade of Gaza legal and confirmed that the commandos had been attacked. The outraged Turks stretched their demands: apologize, compensate, and by the way, end the Gaza blockade. Israel now understood that Erdogan could not be satisfied.

Turkey expelled Israel’s ambassador and downscaled the two countries’ ties to the lowest level. Erdogan is playing not only to his country’s anti-Zionist crowd, but also to the Arab street, in a bid for regional leadership that, since he isn’t Arab, seems almost as improbable as Iran’s bid, now lost in Syrian turmoil.

Meanwhile, the Egyptian Spring has become a long, hot summer. Gazan terrorists infiltrated through Sinai—supposedly under Egyptian control—and murdered Israelis in three different places near the resort town of Eilat. Israel responded of course, but in the resulting exchange of fire Egyptian soldiers were killed, angering many of their countrymen. Caught between undesirable outcomes, Israel accepted the presence of scores of thousands of Egyptian troops in Sinai for the first time in decades.

With confusion about Egypt’s future, this result confirmed what many predicted as soon as Mubarak left: Israel would have to prepare to defend its Southern border, which it has not had to do for many years. This does not necessarily mean war, it means uncertainty, but it also means diversion of resources. And in the last few days, Cairo mobs have torn down the wall around the Israeli embassy and, for their own protection, the ambassador and his family were whisked away in a military jet.

All this time, hundreds of thousands of protestors in Israel—Jewish and Arab citizens alike—have been marching and pitching tent cities, decrying extreme inequality in a country considered socialist a couple of decades ago. By avoiding foreign policy, these protests rallied a wide swath of Israeli society. They have now waned with little result, but the discontent they revealed beneath the economic miracle, with wealth concentrated in fewer and fewer hands, will not go away.

Nor will the foreign threats. Egypt’s army does not want war with Israel, but what if the Muslim Brotherhood, the only well-organized group outside the army, gains power in the elections? Turkey now vows to send its gunboats to protect the next Gaza flotilla. What does Israel do then? Drop the blockade? Hope they are bluffing? Take on the Turkish navy?

Syria is in turmoil, its government slaughtering its own protesting people. Will this end badly for Israel? Nobody can say. Will Iraq be stable after America withdraws? We have to hope so. The Palestinians press on with their bid for unilateral statehood through a vote in the UN General Assembly, which should be taken soon. The result on the ground? Probably not much, but who knows? Settlement expansion continues in the West Bank, making peace talks less plausible with each new apartment.

And Iran’s nuclear centrifuges spin.

Palestinian Realities 2

We crossed the Green Line—the pre-1967 borders—but we did not immediately see the border fence; or as Susan puts it, “the ever creeping separation barrier, snaking through lands that have, for generations, been Palestinian owned.” In some places it’s a huge ugly concrete wall, in others just an impassable barbed-wire fence, but either way it is a formidable barrier.

It separates people from their land, their olive trees, their relatives, jobs, homes.

It restricts people’s movements, and it was meant to do that, after the number of Israelis murdered in bombings and other terrorist acts mounted intolerably through half of the last decade. Perpetrators came from the West Bank as well as Gaza, and the barrier has greatly reduced those fatalities.

But that does not explain its placement. It is always on the Palestinian side of the Green Line, and it always takes up what used to be Palestinian land—in some places meters, in many places kilometers. Since the barrier is still under construction, it is still changing lives. (Even

Jewish ones; far from where we were, at a friend’s home near the Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem, I would later see a huge gash in the view from their front window—a bulldozed hillside ready to hold a new piece of the wall.)

We stopped at the Habla Gate first, not far from the village of that name and south of the town of Qalqiliya. But between these two is a a large thumb of land about ten kilometers long that the barrier surrounds, to protect the Jewish settlement of Alfe Menashe.

We missed some traffic at Habla, an agricultural checkpoint, but there were still some people passing. Susan wrote, “A beautiful horse appears, together with a frisky and skittish young foal not far behind, but otherwise few people, just one tractor and one horse drawn cartful of

fruit.” A soldier told Susan he would rather be at the beach. Another told us to step back farther, behind the gate. Another trained his binoculars on Habla village.

We stopped at a well-kept nursery and admired the flowers while Susan talked with the vendor. Then we went to lunch in a small village called An-Nabi Elyas, Arabic for the Prophet Elijah. We had delicious shishkebab, falafel, chopped salad, olives, and a colorful array of pickled beets, yellow peppers and other vegetables. Everywhere Susan was greeted as a friend. She asked about families, about how business was going. She and Alix truly do show Palestinians a different Jewish face.

We drove more deeply into the West Bank, passing the villages of Deir Sharaf, Anabta, Jubarra. We drove by signs warning Israelis they are not allowed to pass. In one place, soldiers in a Hummer had pulled a car with Israeli plates to the side of the highway. At Irta, the last checkpoint we visited, at the end of the day, Palestinian agricultural workers were streaming back toward home without being stopped at all—a policy begun there that day. A staff member (this was a privately run checkpoint) did not know why, nor whether it would last. The tired, dusty working men took the change literally in stride.

Earlier, what used to be a checkpoint called Beit Iba was now a road allowing free passage, and we stopped at a small Palestinian factory where fine woodwork and stained glass are made by brothers Susan knows; they export their hand-crafted furniture and doors, even to China now. We shopped at a grocery owned by another friend of Susan’s, next door to his family’s home, a large and pretty house made of Jerusalem stone.

But these were oases in a rather desolate, dusty, poverty-burdened landscape. True, this is the Arab world, and its residents are better off than their cousins in, say, Syria, or Egypt. But they are next door to Israel and under Israel’s thumb, and that makes their lives an Israeli and Jewish responsibility. Dotted around what used to be their land alone are new and growing Jewish communities that are obviously wealthier by far than they, but which have zero contact with them, economic or otherwise.

Ann, visiting Israel and Palestine for the first time, would later say she was stunned by the size of those communities; reading of “settlers” and “settlements” on the West Bank, she had pictured collections of trailers. Then, on the way to Bethlehem, and later, on this remarkable trip, she would see that “settlements” means vibrant, well-established towns, always on the high places, looking down on ancient, proud, but poor Palestinian villages, the people in them practicing the discipline of sumud—steadfast patience and forbearance—but not, surely not without anger.

Just after the Six-Day War, the Israeli religious philosopher Yeshayahu Leibovitz warned his fellow Jews that becoming occupiers would threaten the soul of the country. Now, four decades later, it threatens the country’s democratic future, and diminishes day by day its

standing among nations. Except for a right-wing fringe, the whole political spectrum in Israel now accepts the need for a Palestinian state.

Israel’s genius has extended to so many domains, accomplished so many and such varied things. Surely in this domain so vital to its future, it can think of some way to end the stagnation and move forward. V’im lo achshav, aymatai? And if not now, when?

To contribute to MachsomWatch, click here.

Palestinian Realities 1

One day in May, our old friend Susan—a retired professor of social psychology and college administrator, now a full-time activist—British-born, elegant and pretty—took us on a tour of some places in the West Bank that few Israelis ever see.

Susan is a member—and has been for many years—of MachsomWatch, an organization of Jewish women in Israel, originally mainly grandmothers, who began hanging out at checkpoints at the borders of and within the Palestinian territories. Since 2001, as the Second Intifada led to an expansion of the network of checkpoints, they have kept up these visits, each going once a week or so with one or more other members, and they do what their name says: Watch.

And they talk to the young soldiers, often very young, in something like the way a grandma (bubbe in Yiddish, safta in Hebrew) might—if a grandchild she cared about was doing something that seemed wrong. I spent a long morning with Susan and one of her colleagues at a checkpoint near Tulkarm in 2004. Hundreds of Palestinians were lined up in the hot sun to have their bags and i.d.s checked by IDF soldiers.

Slowly, very slowly, they moved through the line. If one of the MachsomWatch women saw a soldier speaking harshly to someone or holding them up in a way that seemed gratuitous, they would go over and ask why. Occasionally a young man was set aside to sit and wait under a currogated plastic roof. By the end of the morning there were three or four of them. The Machsom Watchers asked about them too.

But it seemed to me the main thing they did was to bear witness—stand there and, as their name says, watch—to make it less likely that a young soldier, frustrated, worn down by the task and the thickening heat of the day, would do something harmful or just humiliating, beyond what had become routine, necessary or not. Something that the soldier or even the State of Israel might later regret.

Susan said I could take pictures, and I did, then and now. Nothing out of the ordinary happened that day or this—just the usual humbling of people going to work or school, visiting relatives, or trying to tend their olive orchards or agricultural land. Just the usual interference with everyday life.

But Susan had another purpose that she describes with passion and backs up with her life: to show the Palestinians a different Israeli face from the one they almost always see and have learned to fear and hate, and ultimately to adapt to, for what they see as a limited time.

Susan uses the word “sumud,” Arabic for patience or steadfastness, although from the way she uses it its deeper meaning must be something like forbearance. The Crusaders, after all, were in the Levant for two centuries, but the desert swallowed many of them and Sala’adin’s Arab armies drove the rest away. Sumud, the harsh landscape almost seems to say. Not even the first century of Jewish rule has run its course.

In 2004 Susan had not been doing this for very long, but she was very good at it, and it evolved into a life devoted to opposing the occupation, to observing systematically in many different ways, to raising grant money to keep her work and that of others—including those, like many Palestinians, who would not be able to raise that money on their own behalf, but who are working, peacefully, to set some limit on their own unjust experience.

So Ann and I asked Susan to take us both along on one of her weekly expeditions in 2011—seven years of occupation later. Susan’s official report (with which I am supplementing my notes and my memory) gave us the honor of including us: “Ann K.” and “Mel K.” And she named her colleague, “Alix W.” Both of them have done this work for many years now.

We arrived at the appointed place in Israel proper and got into Susan’s car. As she drove, she gave Ann the basic narrative of the occupation: 44 years now of domination punctuated by violence, a relentless appropriation of Palestinian land for Jewish settlements, and since the Second Intifada this network of checkpoints around and within the territories. Finally, beginning in 2006, the separation fence and wall went up, often within what was supposed to become Palestine, appropriating still more land for Israeli security and convenience.

Driving east, we crossed the Green Line, the place where Israel ended before ‘67, and a little while later we saw the separation fence.

More on this visit next time.

Next Month in Jerusalem: Basketball

When did I first understand that basketball is a universal language?

Certainly not as a boy in Brooklyn, when I was lamely missing baskets in my own backyard, opposing the much more athletic kids next door. Our netless excuse for a basketball hoop, tacked onto our doorless excuse for a garage (shared with the neighbors, hostile at every level from sports to paternal fistfights), certainly did not inspire me.

Maybe it was when I happened to have to be in New York on a certain Sunday when I also had to take (as a superannuated applicant who had already been an anthropology professor) the Medical College Admission Test. It so happened I was assigned to take it at Yeshiva University (in those days it was routinely given on Saturdays, but for reasons other than religion I was not available that Saturday).

So I took the test with a bunch of knit-kippahed (though they weren’t called that then) strapping young men who did what during the lunch break? You guessed it, they played basketball.

Now, it must say something uncomplimentary about me that I was astounded. Every cliché that a Jewish boy from Brooklyn could have in the 1970s about Yeshiva University-bochers (boys), I had. Let’s not go into it. But seeing these handsome, lithe, strong young men glide across the basketball court deftly dribbling and passing what to me had been a very unwieldy ball—as a break from, probably, trouncing me on the MCAT—well, I apologize, but I was astounded.

Fast forward to May 2011. I and my wife, who is on her first visit to Israel, have hired a high-class academic historian to tour us around the Old City (he was perfect: a German convert to Judaism in his teens who had later made aliya and was trying to become as fluent in Arabic as he was in Hebrew and English). We were walking around on the walls of the Old City, starting in the section overlooking the Christian Quarter.

And what do I remember most from that bird’s-eye view of the Christian Quarter? Basketball courts, attached to a high school I think. At that moment nobody was playing, but the courts were clearly well-kept and well-used. Okay, I thought. Basketball in the Old City of Jerusalem. In the Christian Quarter. Ancient churches, medieval churches, sacred space, basketball.

We had to walk briskly to keep up with our guide, but we next came to the Muslim Quarter. Looking down, what did I see? Or at least, what do I remember? Basketball. Not just courts this time, but two ongoing games, one played by boys, one by girls, including some girls covered in hijab, traditional headscarves. You could have knocked me off the wall of the Old City with a feather.

Okay, so I underestimated basketball. And I underestimated people. But I was getting the idea. So now all I needed was to see basketball in the Jewish Quarter. I didn’t, which is not to say it wasn’t there. But now something better has turned up. It’s called “The Rabbi and the Basketball Player,” and it goes like this.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, once known as Lew Alcindor, was in his time a legendary L.A. Lakers center, and perhaps the greatest basketball star of his era. In the 1970s he was a young African-American who became a convert to Islam and changed his name as a sign both of his religious commitment and his independence from white America. (I remember being chewed out, quite properly, one day, by a pro-Palestinian Jewish colleague for getting Abdul-Jabbar’s new name wrong.)

Fast forward again, to this coming July, when Kareem Abdul-Jabbar plans to fulfill a late-life charge given him by his father, Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor, Sr.: to make contact with someone the dad, as a member of the 761st Tank Battalion, had liberated from Buchenwald. This was, at the time, a seven-year-old boy.

Sixty-six years later the boy, now an elderly man, recalls how the dark-skinned American soldier took him to meet the German citizens of Weimar. "Look at this sweet kid,” the soldier said to them, “he isn't even eight yet. This was your enemy, he threatened the Third Reich. He is the one against whom you waged war, and murdered millions like him."

Who is the boy now?

Yisrael Meir Lau, the former Chief Rabbi of Israel and present Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv, the scion of a rabbinic dynasty and a legendary figure in the Jewish world.

So next month, the famed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, bright star of American basketball, and the legendary Rabbi Lau, shining star in the Israeli rabbinic firmament, will join forces at the Jerusalem Film Festival to premier a movie about their strangely and beautifully intertwined lives, and to build a bridge between two religions, two races, and two nations.

I think I can be forgiven now if I say that the arc of the bridge resembles the arc of a ball approaching a basket, sinking without touching the rim.

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