Posted August 31, 2008
Today was a great day. Two family-related events that have symbolic power filled our day. We started with Adin Ner David’s bar mitzvah at Robinson’s Arch, the section of the kotel extension that has been reserved for pluralistic Jewish celebrations. The other is our race back to the Arava so that Zamir could participate in his induction to first grade ceremony.
Truth be told, I was not so in favor of the Robinson’s Arch compromise and penned a series, “Who’s Wall Is It?” many years ago that opened the ideological door for the kotel to be subdivided into three area: men, pluralistic and women. But today Adin and his pioneering family brought us all together for an authentic Jewish and Ner David simcha away from the choas at the Kotel compound and we were able to celebrate along the same wall in our way. What is remarkable is that we–meaning well over 100 people–were not alone. Indeed, like the old bar mitzvah joke about the family that wanted to do something so unique they went to Kenya and then had to hold up their safari delegation because there was another bar mitzvah ahead of them…What won me over to the Robinson’s Arch was not only the power of celebrating Adin’s bar mitzvah there, but that two other groups–one egalitarian and one Modern Orthodox creating their own low mechitza–shared the space. Out of the spotlight of the religous politics of Israel and Jerusalem, groups were coming and celebrating pluralistically and really owning the physical and religious space. It was very inspirational. Below, I hope, is a picture of Adin blowing the shofar and in the distance you can see the other two groups celebrating rosh hodesh there.
On Zamir’s day: It was glorious. And I had to hold back tears when the 12 Sudanese kids who are joining Kita Aleph walked in as a group. In the shadow of the footsteps of Moses, who implored us to remember the stranger because we were strangers in the land of Egypt–this Israeli school was living Jewish values, with love and enthusiasm. Missing, however, was any trace of anything Jewish in the ceremony. No shehechiyanu. No midrash. No blessing of the kids. Hmmmm. Living some Jewish values but ignoring their source. Food for thought.