April 10, 2008

Israel Prayer....Too Offensive

JTA has a story about an egalitarian shul that are having some problems with this prayer for Israel. Apparently, they think it is too militeralistic, "Conflation of religion and politics, its tone of Jewish triumphalism and exclusivity."

Here are some quotes:
Expecting everyone to stand and recite, in unison, something so political clearly sends a message: If you don't identify with the vision of Israel that is expressed in this prayer, then you are wrong,"
What vision bothers this poor soul?
Alpert says the prayer should account for the consequences of Israel's creation for the land's other inhabitants.
I feel such triumphalism in the face of the conflict in Israel and Palestine is irresponsible."
I think this person needs a hug.
Aviva Bock, a member of the Newton Centre Minyan who teaches psychotherapy at Harvard University, says there is something problematic about simply reciting this formula.

"The prayer should be a reflection of our hopes and prayers in the context of today rather than something that feels to me like it was written at a very different moment in time," she said.
Well, what could you expect from a psychotherapist? Sorry 
Kalmanofsky himself recommended an alteration of the passage that speaks of Israeli soldiers achieving "victory," substituting instead a verse from Isaiah asking that they return in peace
At Manhattan's Jewish Center, a modern Orthodox shul, the congregation for many years had substituted an alternate version of the Israel prayer due to discomfort over the messianic element in the line characterizing Israel as "the first flowering of the redemption."

I really don't understand people sometimes. First of all, it says this shul (not the OJ one) follows a traditional siddur liturgy. Have they opened up the siddur lately. It's full of stuff about Israels exclusivity. Its full of places where we hope God will deliver us from its enemies. And messianic yearnings??? Ya, I think it mentions it there too. I wonder if this shul has a problem with the Torah's telling the Israelites to destroy the original inhabitants of Canaan. Perhaps we should add prayers for the souls of the Hittites. What about Tanakh?

I don't know. The way people conceive the world boggles my mind. Wanting those that want you destroyed, to be destroyed, is now politically incorrect. Victory is assur. It's offensive to the sensitivies of those that are defeated I guess. And why does it bother them calling Israel the first budding of the redemption? I mean, isn't that what these people are davening for? A redemption? In Judaism IIRC, redemption and a return to the land go hand and hand. So why do they get so offended by it all?

I would love to get a list of all the "offensive" things in the siddur and email this shul and see if they have a problem with it too. Or is just Israel? Anyone up for the challenge?

And then you have types like Gil, that have no problem tinkering with the prayer or ommitting it. Why? Two reasons. One, because it is recent. Well, weren't all prayers recent at some point or another? And the second, which I feel is for more sad is the fact that he says its political. The fact that Gil can say THIS prayer is political bothers me. How can it be political Gil? You are praying for its safety. You are praying for it being victorious. You are praying for its leaders to make right choices. And yes, you are praying that it is the beginning of a redemption. A redemption that you OBVIOUSLY believe is coming. If anything Gil, Israel should be a cause for all us to say thank you to God without you having to catogorize it into some sort of ideology first. I am SURE we can scroll through the siddur and even Talmud and find many "political" references.