The term Israel means “to struggle with God” (Yisra-El). Israel is…
- A person. Jacob the patriarch, son of Isaac and grandson of Abraham. He is named Israel by God after struggling with a messenger.
- A place. Israel has been used to name several places:
- The land of Israel
- Kingdom of Israel (united monarchy) (1020 BCE – 931 BCE), the kingdom established by the Israelites and uniting them under a single king
- Kingdom of Israel (Samaria) (931 BCE – 722 BCE), the secessionist kingdom of northern Israelites
- Judea, also called Israel, as it is known in the Christian Bible in Maccabees, the Gospels, and Acts
- The modern State of Israel
- A people. Israel is another term for the Jewish people, no matter where we are or where we come from.
Being Part of Israel
A key challenge to Jewish identity is often, oddly enough, other Jews. For example, hearing someone say, “Christina isn’t a Jewish name” or “Mexicans can be Jews?” or “was your family hurt when you married a non-Jew?” There are also the questions of who is and who is not a Jew by virtue of halacha (Jewish law) or of Jewish continuity — whether you are helping further the Jewish peoplehood into the future in a way deemed proper by someone else.
It is important to remember that even if people are rude, and often this is only by accident, that being part of community is Judaism. Take a look at this sheet on Sefaria and see what resonates with you and what does not.
Israel-Palestine: The Ask Project
I am a huge fan of The Ask Project. The idea is simple:
Want to know what Israelis and Palestinians really think? Ask.
Questions come from you, the viewers. Respondents are random people on the street. All responses are included and unedited for content.
I reserve the right to give sarcastic comments
Here are some videos that capture different aspects of Israel, Palestine, religion, politics, culture and more. All the videos can be found in the link beow. Explore the topics that interest you: https://www.youtube.com/user/coreygilshuster/videos
A Primer on Israel-Palestine
This is some pro-level stuff, so if you wind up only reading a few pages, no worries. Kudos to International Affairs and Middle East expert Benjamin Kweskin for sending us this information http://benjaminkweskin.com/
Israel: Ways to Get There
I have been to Israel twice. Once on vacation with my wife and friends (including the before mentioned professor Benjamin Kweskin and his wife Whitney). The other as a tour co-leader for Honeymoon Israel on a Richmond trip.
The following are some ways you can get to Israel without breaking the bank. Note that some of these will have particular religious or political leanings, so “buyer beware”. Every trip has an agenda, stated or otherwise. That’s why I (Rabbi Patrick) recommend putting together your own trip, connecting with local Israelis and Palestinians, and getting a sense of what life is really like in the most hotly contested piece of real estate in the world.
- Birthright Israel
- Honeymoon Israel
- Daat (Israeli travel company — reach out to Keren Hananel for private tours)
- Delicious Israel (culinary food tours, ask for Inbal Baum)
- Ayelet (another popular tour company)
- Friends of the Israeli Defense Force (FIDF)
Read and watch what you find on this page, and let’s discuss in our meeting!