Posts Tagged ‘gaza’


From Generation to Degeneration: Declining American Jewish Kinship with Israel?

Posted on: April 22nd, 2015 by Hayim Herring



Over the past five years, my wife and I have spent about six weeks each year in Israel. We’re clearly not Israeli citizens, but we’re more than occasional visitors. Like many, we have family and close friends in Israel, and are intentionally deepening those relationships and making new ones. Whenever we return from a visit, we’re asked, “What did you see this time?” While we enjoy museums, concerts, new wineries, restaurants and archaeological findings, we most enjoy being with family and friends and, for me, getting my spiritual fix.


With more frequent visits, I’ve become more aware of the differences between the American and Israeli Jewish communities. Yom ha’Atzmaut felt like the right time to share some reflections… and to ask you for your opinions.


The modern state of Israel is only 67 years old. Although Israel is the indisputable historic homeland of the Jewish people, in its current iteration, it is young. In fact, my parents are older than the modern State of Israel. Israel is only about 10 years older than my wife and me, over 40 years older than my children, and well over 60 years older for some of my friends who have grandchildren.





Doing this simple, personal math clearly reminds me that within the American Jewish community, there are two generations that can remember the fragility of the State of Israel, and two generations (going on three) that think that Israel is an outsized global powerhouse. Because of such a significant divide, I wonder to what extent the words “from generation to generation,” that imply continuity of values and kinship, apply to the majority of American Jews who are third generation and beyond. They do not have personal living memories of Israel’s vulnerability but are routinely reminded of Israel’s deficiencies. In daily doses of media images and text, they absorb a one-sided, distorted view of Israel, where Israel almost always does wrong and rarely can do right.



Wars Against Israel: Beyond the Gaza Operation

Posted on: July 28th, 2014 by Hayim Herring


Intertwined Lives Once Again


This past Shabbat, we completed reading the Book of Numbers in the annual Torah cycle. The close of that book sets the stage for the Jewish people’s next steps, from wanderers to returnees to their ancestral land. But two tribes, Reuven and Gad, and one half of the tribe of Manasseh, remain on the other side of the Jordan and do not enter the land. Interestingly, while Reuven and Gad directly ask Moses for permission to remain in Transjordan, Moses is the one to designate half of the tribe of Manasseh’s portion in Israel and half in Transjordan (Numbers 32:33) Moses creates an intentional Diaspora, and causes the exile of one part of a family from another. Why?

Perhaps Moses foresaw the need to create a reality where Jewish people inside and outside of the land of Israel had a shared a past. The severing of direct family connections might better ensure their chances for a shared future. If only two whole tribes separated from the other ten, it would have been much easier for each side to forget about the other. But by splitting a single tribe in half, Moses increased the odds that caring would transcend geography and time, and that a family that was literally divided would better remember that a shared past meant an intertwined future, one in which each half would help the other in times of need.
And that is the contemporary situation of worldwide Jewry again. We share not just a past, but also a present in which many of us have immediate family members and some of our closest friends in Israel. We are both obligated and personally motivated to secure a shared, peaceful future for the State of Israel and Jewish communities around the world.


Using Social Media to Support Israel

Posted on: November 20th, 2012 by Hayim Herring
Using Social Media to Support Israel

photo from: idfonline,

My colleague and friend, Rabbi Jason Miller, wrote a column in the New York Jewish Week, titled The First War Played Out in the Social Networks. It’s about how the Israeli Government and the terrorist group, Hamas, that is ruling Gaza, are using social media platforms like Twitter. It’s a very informative piece, which is why I’ve hyperlinked to it.

One implication of Rabbi Miller’s comments is the importance of having social media policies in place, updated contact information of constituents, and a social media crisis management response plan ready to go. More specifically, they also made me think about how we can support Israel during this unacceptable situation of millions of Israeli citizens living in bomb shelters or having to flee to them routinely. (And yes-the situation is also intolerable for innocent Gazans who cannot stop Hamas militants from placing lethal munitions in their basements, in crowded neighborhoods, where they know they will inflict carnage on their own citizens. Who wants to see truly innocent people suffering?!)


If you want to help, you can:

With the guidance of leaders, volunteers can play a substantive role in communicating to the public.

Personally, I wish that I were in Israel now, volunteering and showing support. But until I get there in about five weeks, I can at least use social media as a public means of support. I hope that you will too and if you have other ideas, please comment.


Thank you,


Rabbi Hayim Herring



Preparing for the Unexpected

Posted on: January 5th, 2009 by Hayim Herring

I’m writing from Israel, where I’ve been with my family since before the start of the war in Gaza. If I was in Minneapolis now, the media would be showing a graph with a list of school closings and the number of inches of snow that fell in each school district. Snow falling from the sky is a natural event, causing children to miss school and families to rearrange their schedules.

Instead of watching graphs with school closings because of falling snow, we’re watching graphs of school closings in southern Israel’s towns and cities with the number of falling rockets. Rocket fall, unlike snow fall, is not a natural event. Causing it is a humanly-calculated malicious act.

In Minneapolis now, the major safety concern is with the snow falling from the sky. In Israel, schoolchildren and residents of the south now have to worry about the number of rockets raining from the sky.  In fact, over 6,300 rockets have struck Southern Israel since August 2005 when Israel unilaterally evacuated Gaza, with over 3000 rockets alone landing since 2008 (Jewish Virtual Library).

Issues in the Middle East are always complex and my purpose is not to treat this war simplistically, nor do I want to minimize the sheer suffering of those innocent Gazan residents. But I can’t believe that if St. Paul started lobbing 50 rockets per day at Minneapolis that anyone would accept this reality.

The subject of Tools for Shuls for the last few weeks has been strategic change. In a related vein, the events of the past 10 days have reminded me of the importance of taking unforeseen events into account and having the flexibility to modify plans based on these contingencies. For the family part of my visit, we’ve had to skip some sites we hoped to see and substitute them with others. For the remaining week that I’m here on a leadership retreat with rabbinical students, we’ve also had to modify our agenda. My guess is that it may change during the retreat as well, based on events. Even when plans are carefully developed months in advance it’s good to remember the expression: “change happens,” and to be prepared for it on all levels of planning.

A version of this blog post appears at

Rabbi Hayim Herring