God knows I wish I was home.
I’m currently on Shlichut in the amazing community of Perth, teaching Hebrew, Zionism, and weekly Shiurim. I spend my days working absurdly hard, exhausting every last ounce of energy in community, school, and Bnei Akiva work. And God knows it’s the best feeling in the world.
Lately though, the feeling of distance has been kicking in. You realize that the world you left behind was the world to which you most belonged. You realize that the friends and family you left behind are the ones you held most dear. The bars, restaurants, the street performers, the beggars and the noise of the shuk on Friday, the smell of Shabbat cooking which conquers the street as the candles are lit, the long lines into the Central bus station, the aggravating text messages from every single political party even the “Kulanu Chaverim Na Nach” party, which thinks that all the problems in the country can be fixed with vans blaring horrendously covered pop hits…in short, EVERYTHING is so far away. The world becomes a strange place in this reality, sort of like being in a dream while living a dream.
And it also makes things as they are unfolding now even harder.
The greater community of which I proudly call myself a part, the Religious Zionist camp, is experiencing turmoil within. For some reason, the importance of seats on the next Knesset is more important than core values in Religious Zionism, such as decrying acts of violence and hate. As Rav Medan said, “our path is very far from that of a person with a picture of Baruch Goldstein on his wall”. The questions we must ask ourselves are those of identity: if the Religious Zionist world is looking like this, what form must education in the diaspora take in order to affect change in this image? How will we make the next generation of Religious Zionists, especially those who we ourselves will encourage to become a part of that community upon their Aliyah?
This Purim marks 25 years since an unspeakable act was committed by someone wearing a Kippah Srugah, a most macabre costume in and of itself, worn by one whose action could not represent that sacred skullcap less. Some how, the Kippah Srugah has since been unable to detach itself fully from the criminal who defiled it. The religious Zionist camp for which I flew abroad is currently a sad place. Aligning our camp’s flagship party with Kahanists could be the most damaging thing possible from the side of diaspora Judaism, which for the most part has drifted very far away from Kahane. Will we be able to encourage people to follow the values we live by, when the party which claims to represent our interests has so readily sold itself out?
God knows I dreamed of this since I was a kid. I hoped that one day I would be on Shlichut, that I would be a leader in the youth movement of which I was part as a kid, and that I would be able to talk about my experiences as an Oleh with people. These elections have cast upon me a new responsibility as a Shaliach, upon all Shlichim: it is imperative that we make it our business to make tolerance synonymous with the name of our community and our camp, to make it clear as day that while Jewish Strength is indeed a value, Otzma Yehudit could not be further from our values. We must educate them to the crimes of Goldstein and the (to speak lightly) problematic philosophy of Rav Meir Kahane, so that the next generation of Religious Zionist Olim will know to fight for representation which does not include those who support terrorism, for values which supersede a seat in the Knesset.
Because we cannot cause other parties to change their stances regarding terrorism on the other side, but we can most definitely ensure that our parties espouse views which are strongly anti-terror on our side. Our community depends on it.