A Blessing Amid Danger
Wherever they are when terror lurks, he underscored,
abbi Daniel Gordis was struck by how clearly the
know their fellow citizens will get them back home, "to
e-mail letter reflected the typical reaction to his
place on the planet where Jews can take care of them-
National Public Radio comments, in which he
affirmed why he, his wife, Elisheva, and their
That's why Israeli medics in five cargo planes went to Kenya
three school-age children still live in Israel, despite the deadly
within hours of the hotel blast and why Israeli fighter jets
went to the aid of Arida Israeli Airlines Flight 582, with 271
"When the neighborhood we were living in deteriorated to
people aboard; somehow on liftoff from Mombasa, the plane
the point that it was no longer safe to walk the streets, we
somehow eluded two heat-seeking missiles.
moved," the listener wrote. "We could have stayed, worked
Rabbi Gordis estimated that Israel has been the target of
with the neighborhood association, joined the block watch-
terror attacks since the intifida (uprising) began in
ers, etc., but in the meanwhile, we had images of our chil-
September 2000. The death toll from Palestinian terror and
dren coming home from school mugged,
violence is more than 690 Israeli lives:
bloodied or even killed. It wasn't worth it to
If anything, the intifida has reinforced Israeli determination
believe in the embattled Jewish state as a place Worthy for
"How will you feel if one of those suicide
The Gordis children are Talia, 15; Avi, 12; and
bombers kills your child when you could
have avoided it by moving back to the
The same day as the Kenyan terror, Israelis voted in the
Likud Party primary. Two Palestinian terrorists killed six
"The problems are caused by forces
Israelis and injured 40 more at a Likud polling station in Beit
b, eyond your control," the listener argued.
but the election went on.
ROBERT A. "Doesn't your family come first?"
throes of a tragic day, Rabbi Gordis wrote, Israelis
Tough as the question was, I knew Rabbi
to vote — quietly, peacefully and democratically.
Gordis, an Israeli educator since his family
the midst of all the sadness and grief, many of us
made aliyah in 1998, would have a mean-
are proud of that. I think we have a right to be."
I think so, too.
And he did.
In the Nov. 28 installment of his 'Dispatches
From An Anxious State," featured on his Web site
A Dream Fulfilled
(vvww.danielgordis.org), Rabbi Gordis responded to
Israel resonates for Jews everywhere. It's the home-
that listener of NPR's Larry Lopate Show. The rabbi
land of a people with a 4,000-year-old history. It's
had been interviewed Nov. 18 in New York.
built with timbers of resolve, not fear.
Rabbi Gordis set out to explain . "why we're here,
That's why I was moved by how Rabbi Gordis
why this isn't anything like the neighborhood that
summed up the horror of Nov. 28: "Even on dark
you left, and why we're not killing our children, but
days like today, in-which everyone I know was sullen,
giving them somethinc, to live for.
recovering from one bit of [bad] news only to hear
"This isn't some dumpy neighborhood somewhere
another, this place pulses with hope.
in the States that makes no difference to anyone but
"Those doctors flying to Mombasa are what this
those who can't get out of it," wrote Rabbi Gordis,
place is all about. The F-16s, shadowing the Arkia 757 mak-
director of the Jerusalem Fellows program of the Mandel
ing its way home, are what this place is all about. And the
Foundation Sector on Jewish Education and Continuity.
quiet, orderly voting is what this place is all about.
"This is what we call home."
"This isn't a neighborhood," he added. "It's home. And
Renowned as an author and a speaker on Jewish life in
with all its faults, and there are many, it's a dream come
Israel and America, as well as on Jewish law and ethics, Rabbi
Gordis will address Detroit Jewry at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday,
Rabbi Gordis then mused about his children — living
Feb. 5, at the Jewish Community Center in West Bloomfield.
amid danger, but full of hope. "Life isn't about staying alive.
He will deliver the fourth annual Shiffman Family Lecture,
It's about believing in something that matters while you're
which kicks off Seminars for Adult Jewish Enrichment, a
popular winter learning experience.
Family does come first, he stressed. "And that's why we're -
Previously, the rabbi was founding dean of the Ziegler
here. To raise our kids in a place that's all about them, about
Rabbinical School, a professor of philosophy and a vice presi-
their history, their future, their sense of being at home."
dent at the University of Judaism in Los Angeles.
Rabbi Gordis ended his dispatch by anticipating the mira-
cle told in the ancient story of Chanukah, the Festival of
Lights, which would begin the next night.
Ties That Bind
He wrote of candles flickering from every Jerusalem apart-
Rabbi Gordis' dispatch came Nov. 28, in the wake of terror at
that he could see — homes of families with religious,
a Kenyan beachfront hotel favored by Israeli tourists. Three Al
political and cultural differences, but bound by a love for
Q aida-enlisted suicide bombers exploded a car in the lobby;
Judaism. "They all have candles in the window because, in
three Israelis and 10 Kenyans also died. Eighty people were
spite of everything, we still believe in miracles."
His conclusion to the NPR listener captured why Israelis
"Muslim extremist evil knows no borders," he wrote.
so blessed and are so willing to fight aggressors: "It's a
"We've known that for a long time. Remember Munich?
dangerous place, this neighborhood of ours, but it's
Remember New York?"
And it's a miracle, it really is. And From that, you see,
Rabbi Gordis proclaimed that the terror isn't about settle-
don't walk away. Now do you get it?"
ments or army occupation, "but about Israel herself, and
I know I do. Ei
about Israelis and Jews wherever they may be."
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