From the Valley to the Slope, and Back Again

Rabbi Leora Ezrachi-Vered recently joined us as part of her Golden Fellowship through HUC-JIR, which brings Israeli rabbinical students and recently ordained Israeli Reform Rabbis to intern in North American Reform congregations. Read Rabbi Ezrachi-Vered’s heartfelt reflection to CBE.
In the past week you may have noticed me around. I’ve had the good fortune to be able to visit CBE as a “Golden Fellow” (thanks to the generosity of the Hebrew Union College- Jewish Institute of Religion), getting to know your wonderful community, learning from your spiritual leadership and joining activities. I’ve met with your wonderful 8th graders. Sang with Debbie and the families of shir L’shabbat, educated myself on matters of decarceration from the “Dismantling Racism” committee and have had the honor of teaching and learning with different groups, thanks to the careful planning of Cantor Josh Breitzer.

I was especially lucky to meet with the participants of CBE’s group trip to Israel, who are coming shortly for a fascinating program along with Rabbi Timoner. We will meet again shortly in Israel, for a panel with Nigun Halev’s Arab partners in our shared society project.

It has been an affirmation of my respect and admiration for the vibrant and thriving Reform Judaism that is alive and kicking in the U.S. in general and in Brooklyn specifically.

As I return to my community, “Nigun Halev” in the Jezreel Valley, I return with new connections and colleagues and with more hope and excitement for a connection between our two communities. Yes, we are smaller and younger, but we share so many values: Love of Jewish experience and prayer, respect for the Torah and those who teach it, love of Jewish music, of Nigunim and a strong commitment to fighting and advocating for a better society- in Israel and in the U.S. Luckily we will indeed meet soon, in Israel.

I know that these are complicated times and many of us feel critical of choices that our governments make, that may or may not line up with our own views. Despite that I truly believe that we are not (only) our governments and our politics. We are so much more- we are culture and spirit, art and food, activists and people. More than ever I believe that a personal connection to Israel must be just that- a connection with a real person. It is very hard to connect to an idea beyond an intellectual level. But once we know a real person, and have a real relationship with a person or a community, one that includes an ongoing conversation, then it is easy and natural to care.

Kol Yisrael Chaverim, v’KOl Yisrael Arevim Ze la Ze-
All of Israel are friends and all of Israel must be responsible for each other. To me this is not a slogan or a catch phrase, but a way of life.

So with that in mind, I would like to invite you to be my friend and friends of Nigun Halev in the Jezreel Valley. We are a 150 member community, dedicated to Jewish renewal, culture and activism. We love singing and are proud to have the word “Nigun” in our name. We love hosting visitors and make our guests feel welcome. We care about the Jewish People and work hard to build meaningful relationships with our Arab (Muslims and Christians and Druze alike) neighbors.