Rabbi Lewis flew to Israel last night, where she will be traveling for two weeks. She wrote this meditation on her decision to visit Israel at this very difficult time.
"When I am in Israel, I feel awake and alive. I have had the blessing of living in Israel for three years of my life. After college, I worked at a community center in Ashkelon and at a multicultural women's center in Jerusalem. I served as madricha (counselor) for American High School graduates learning and volunteering in Jerusalem and Be'er Sheva. I fell in love with the rhythms of life of this complex and beautiful country. I was determined to make aliyah and to work in the field of multicultural education. My path took me instead to the adventures of the rabbinate. During our course of study at JTS, Yosef and I had the opportunity to live in Israel together, to delve into the Talmud in Jerusalem and to meet each other's families in Netanya and Eilat."
"Our cousin Oded announced his engagement a few months ago, and I made plans to travel to Israel to attend the wedding this July, to reconnect with family and friends, and to be again in this land of many stories. This summer, as I have waited with great anticipation for the trip, I have cried for Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaar, Naftali Frankel and Mohammed Abu-Khdeir. I have cried for the children running for shelter in the south, their hearts pounding. I have cried for all of the families of Israel and Gaza whose dreams have been shattered by trauma. I have pored over the news each hour. I have prayed for peace, picturing the faces of the youth I worked with in Ashkelon, children of immigrants from Ethiopia and the former Soviet Union. They are old enough to be soldiers now. They are only eighteen."
"These past ten days, as war has raged and rocket fire has rained down, I have wondered whether or not to go forward with the trip. I have spent time on the phone with concerned relatives in the US and have checked in with my Israeli family each day. The feeling in my gut is pulling me home to Israel, in all of its layers and liveliness, intensity and heartbreak. While I am in Israel over the next two weeks, I look forward to being in touch with our community and to sharing my experiences. Tonight, as I bring in Shabbat in Jerusalem, I will be thinking of our GJC family, our many voices and perspectives, and our unceasing prayers for peace."