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April 02, 2004 - Image 34

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2004-04-02

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Leave Gaza, But Not Like This

the Gaza Strip would constitute a victo-
ry for terror. They cite Israel's retreat
he majority of Israelis agree
from southern Lebanon in the spring of
with Prime Minister Ariel
2000 as both strengthening Hezbollah
Sharon's conclusion that
and giving the Palestinians the inspira-
there is no partner on the
tion to launch a violent intifada as a
Palestinian side with whom to negotiate
means to achieve political gain.
a peace agreement.
Although some Israeli officials down-
According to recent public opinion
play the possibility, there is justification
polls, most Israelis also agree with
for the concern that the terror organiza-
Sharon's plan to evacuate the Jewish set-
dements of the Gaza Strip, realizing that . tions, mainly Hamas, will wrest control
over Gaza following an Israeli withdraw-
these small communities will be outside
al. Instead of providing Israelis with
the boundaries of sovereign Israel once
increased security behind a defensible
an agreement is reached.
line, protected by a security fence, the
Many of the right-wing opponents of
Gaza evacuation will put more Israeli
Sharon's plan, some of them from his
communities, including the city of
own Likud Party, object to the move
Ashkelon, within the range of Hamas
because they see the Gaza settlements as
mortars and rockets.
part of Greater Israel, an entity defined
The resulting vacuum in both author-
by biblical promises. The settlers' rab-
and security in Gaza will not be
binical corps is quick to cite Halachic
resolved by Egypt, which fears sending
interpretations stating that the evacua-
its police and troops into the volatile
tion of any Jewish community runs
area, where they could end up con-
counter to Jewish law.
fronting Palestinian extremists unwilling
Others on both the right and the left
to lay down their arms. Egyptian
state that a unilateral withdrawal from
President Hosni Mubarak has suggested
Ellis Shuman, editor of Israel Insider,
that his country position troops along-
is the author of "The Virtual Kibbutz."
side the Gaza border in efforts to thwart
His e-mail address is
weapons-smuggling efforts. Combating



Why Is This Generation Different?

whole different generation?
The first generation is not only wise,
but enthusiastic — or perhaps it is
enthusiastic because it is wise. It has
received a solid Jewish education and is
steeped in Jewish life and Jewish cul-
ture. Its members ask questions so as to
broaden and deepen their commitment.
The second generation is wicked (the
language is harsh, but it's the text we
have): This generation may have
learned the "behavioral" part of
Judaism, but it has missed the spiritual
and the inspirational elements. Lacking
a meaningful understanding of Pesach
— and, indeed, of Judaism — it rebels.
The third generation asks a question
that is almost primitive: "'What is
this?" This generation is ignorant, too
ignorant to be rebellious. Yet the
grandchild notices unfamiliar objects
Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz is an author,
and actions, and so he approaches the
scholar and social critic best known for his
grandfather with his questions.
monumental translation of and commen-
The child of the fourth generation,
tary on the Talmud. His efforts are sup-
is not motivated to ask, and
ported internationally by the Aleph Society.
would not even know what or whom
Rabbi Steinsaltz is also the founder and
spiritual adviser of a worldwide network of to ask. No one in his orbit is Jewishly
knowledgeable or Jewishly connected.
Jewish education programs, including the
. His grandfather is a member of the sec-
Institute for Jewish Studies in the CIS
ond generation, the one who rebelled
(Commonwealth of Independent States) in
against the Jewish heritage and rejected
the former Soviet Union. His e-mail
it. He has no memories and no context.
address is amara@schnurassociates.com


he seder is a singular event
in the Jewish calendar,
requiring days or even
weeks of preparation.
When we sit down at the table, at
last, and coax the youngest participant
to ask Mah Nishtanah (the Four
Questions), we know exactly what is
different and how much effort it took
to make it different.
The next set of questions — those
asked by the Four Sons (or the Four
Children) — addresses a larger issue.
According to one perspective, the Four
Sons represent four generations of the
Jewish people. This leads us to the
wider question I have posed above. A
different night is one thing, but a


4/ 2


Yet leaving Gaza unilaterally
the Palestinians' smuggling is
is not the optimum way to
something the Egyptians have
make the move.
failed to do during the 25-year
Instead of evacuating the set-
duration of the Israeli-Egyptian
tlements, which even IDF com-
peace treaty
manders say will only encour- .
Should Israel be in the Gaza
age terrorists to continue their
Strip? Most Israelis say "no,"
armed struggle, shouldn't Israel
realizing that the Jewish corn-
give a prize to those who fight
munities there are a bone in the
Shouldn't Israel make
throat of the hostile Palestinian
effort to coordinate
population that surrounds
its Palestinian
them. Only some 7,500 Jewish
settlers live in the 20 settlements
The Israeli government
of Gala; yet this small popula-
should state its readiness to
tion and their circle of right-
withdraw from the Gaza Strip only
wing, mostly religious supporters insist
when a demilitarized, terror-free
that the communities remain, no matter
Palestinian entity is willing to assume
how mainly Israeli lives — soldiers and
responsibility for the area. Israel should
civilians — are lost as a result. This view
tell the Palestinian government, "If you
does not represent the Israeli majority.
round up the terrorists, collect their
Both the Likud and Labor parties
weapons, end the terror once and for all
share responsibility for the Gala settle-
— this is what you will get in return."
ment enterprise, one that failed to be
The "road map" for this plan already
accepted as a national priority or necessi-
has been set out. If Israel really wants to
ty. Now Sharon and much of the coun-
work toward a viable peace arrangement
try have come to the realization that
with the Palestinians, it should set the
Israel must change course. If there is no
one with whom to discuss peace, Sharon conditions, which will receive wide
says, Israel should define its own defensi- international support, and only then
withdraw from the Gaza Strip. ❑
ble borders.

Soviet Repression

memories and restore Jewish
knowledge. It is almost a
This tragedy is being played
miracle that, so far removed
out all over the world. It is
from the positive practice of
particularly stark in the for-
there are those who
mer Soviet Union (FSU). The
even hunger for
pogroms of the 19th century
gave way to the religious
But let us not be compla-
repression of the 20th. .
RABBI ADIN cent. The FSU is not the
Now, less than a generation
STEINSALTZ only place where generations
since Jews regained the right
of Jews are being lost.
to practice Judaism openly,
Throughout our history
how many Jews in the FSU
in almost every country
can ask the questions? How
dispersion — with the
many have memories of
noteworthy exception of the United
Jewish life? Of a seder at their grand-
States — others have tried to destroy
parents' home? Of a menorah in the
us with hate. Today, however, the
biggest problem — especially in the
For too many Jews in the FSU
United States — is that we are being
today, Judaism is not even a memory
decimated by "love," as, one by one,
— it is the memory of a memory.
are voluntarily surrendering
This generation is different because
on an unprecedented
so many cannot access the familial
aspect of Judaism. This generation,
Our response to this threat must
more than any other in Jewish histo-
also occur one-to-one. At the seder,
ry, has been distanced so long and so
and every day, we must respond to
effectively, that it must reach out
our children's curiosity with sub-
beyond itself in order to reconnect.
and we must meet their pas-
At the same time, we who are capa-
our own. We must assure
ble of transmitting Jewish knowledge
a Judaism that is fresh
must rise to the challenge and meet
and compelling, so that
it more than half way.
will be able to
The task before us is to inspire and
establish itself as a first generation
empower this generation, in the FSU
that is both wise and enthusiastic.
and elsewhere, to re-create Jewish

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