Rachel Lerman was not sure what to expect when she signed up for an Israel experience with The Center for Jewish Non Violence . Lerman feels very connected to Israel, having grown up in the youth movement Young Judaea. However, she also wanted to widen her perspective on Israel and learn from people with other backgrounds and experiences. The organization’s founder, Ilana Sumka, started The Center for Jewish Non Violence after her friend in the West Bank’s olive trees were destroyed to make way for an Israeli settlement. Ilana brought other Jews with her to help her friend replant his trees. The organization evolved into many projects that Jews work on together with Palestinians. Lerman’s group worked in East Jerusalem at a community center. The area has an increasing number of Israeli settlers, and the relations between Palestinians and settlers in East Jerusalem are tense. The Center for Jewish Non-Violence’s volunteers showed a different side of the Jewish community to families at the community center. Lerman said that her experience in this program left her confused and sad. What she saw was so different than what she learned about Israel growing up. Since her trip, she has thought a lot about the way Israel education happens in the Jewish community and the importance of broadening the conversation. As a grandchild of Holocaust survivors, Lerman feels the violence against Palestinians should be addressed more openly by the Jewish community. She understands the Jewish community may feel that these conversations could cause Jews to feel anti-Israel, but she thinks that addressing these issues openly will make the community stronger. 

*We want to thank Rachel for sharing her experience with us in this enewsletter. We believe that a big-tent, dialogue-oriented approach to Israel enriches our community. We may not always agree with each other, but the value of Shalom Bayit, striving to listen and live with each other, enhances the beauty of Judaism.