In 2006 I received a book entitled “60 Days For 6 Million” from the office of Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks. Inserted inside was card informing me that the learning I would be undertaking was in the merit and memory of Chana Schein who at age 25 had died in the Lwow Ghetto in 1944.
This ‘hit home’ in many ways. One of which was that one of my daughters had just turned 25 that year and I could not fathom life without her. Chana Chein became one of the constants in my daily prayers.
Researching Chana’s life and finding her ‘page of testimony’ on the Yad Vashem website lead to a more personal understanding of the Holocaust.
One of the recurring themes in the Jewish press, both in Israel and abroad, is the in-depth soul searching that goes on over various issues on an almost daily basis.
As ‘a people’ dispersed around the world, but finally with a homeland of their own that is Israel, Jews everywhere have a vested interest in every Israeli issue.
The question is ‘ how to contribute ? ‘ or how to assist in finding solutions to what are frequently presented as Israeli problems to be solved.
Here in Canada many of the lectures, courses and events which I attend will have, amongst those attending, individuals who are Israelis. Either living permanently in Canada or visiting for various periods they often bring an entirely fresh approach to whatever topic is under discussion. Once a fresh viewpoint has been stated its mere ennunciation frequently causes others to rethink their opinions.
This seems to apply equally to Torah learning, political debates and societal issues. Viewpoints that we as Canadians hold to be ‘givens’, as well as opinions on Israeli topics, are all fair game for a wide range of view points.
I often wonder if the reciprocal process holds true ?
Are North Americans who have made aliyah or long term visitors, such as students, able to make meaningful contributions to debates and/or social discourse that is of informed benefit to Israelis ? I am not thinking of those short term tourists who in the space of three weeks or less believe they have discovered the solution to problems which have challenged Israel’s leaders since the state’s inception in 1948.
There are some six million Jews living in Israel and some six million Jews living in the diaspora. Might there be some as yet unknown benefit from linking both groups up in ‘pairs’ so as to gain a better understanding of each others’ concerns and experiences ?
Also, given that over six million Jews perished in the Holocaust what unforeseen benefits might arise if each victim was linked to the Israeli/Diaspora pairings ?
When I worked for our Canadian Federal Government we would frequently seek out the advice on position documents from others who had no background in the subject under discussion. Invariably a ‘fresh pair of eyes’ reviewing something would prompt some innocuous question that would cause us ‘the experts’ to re-visit a proposed line of reasoning.
Certainty is of value when it provides a stable foundation on which to build something. It is of less value when it becomes a hindrance in moving forward towards a more informed position.