Listen, Israel…

There are a few articles about the Kotel and Women of the Wall in this month’s Sh’ma Journal about Holiness.  As my friend Ellen Allard taught me in in her song, “Holy-Holiness” – “all around, everywhere – holy holiness”.  (Very Baal Shem Tov of them.)

So why the attachment to locale?

I’m actually less interested the location of the Kotel issue – rather, the debate (or lack, thereof) in Israel about one’s freedom to connect to a place they find holy Israel.  I am interested in examining if one is allowed to be at a site or location in Israel, connect to its roots and express their god-given right to pray. out loud. with people they want to pray with.  It’s not for me to decide whether one finds a particular place meaningful or holy.  It’s not for the Rabbinate to decide either.

But I’m American – what do I know? My progressive ways of praying are not welcome in Israel – or are they?  After all, Ben Gurion, in the Declaration of Independence stated that Israel will:

“Uphold the full social and political equality of all its citizens without distinction of race, creed or sex, conscience, worship, education, culture and language.”

Some say this is an “American-born” issue.  I ask: Does it matter where it came from? When injustice is spotted, who cares who calls it out? It’s still there.

Here is my musical take on this month’s Holiness topic:

Shma Yisrael – Listen Israel – WATCH VIDEO

Shma Yisrael

(The mp3 and sheet music are available for free for educators and advocates.)

Fran Gordon and Naomi Less’ song “Shma Yisrael” asks the Jewish community at large why in Israel, a modern Jewish democracy, the spiritual civil rights of all Jews are not protected. This song is part of a larger initiative called the “Sacred Rights, Sacred Songs Project” – a concert to awaken Jews around the world to the conflict between Public Jewish Law and the core democratic values found in Israel’s Declaration of Independence. (ie. marriage laws, women’s rights, divorce, conversion, burial, public transportation.) – See more at: Sacred Rights, Sacred Song