Category Archives: ICCI

Message from ICCI about Gaza

I’ve been getting lots of emails from both the right and left about how to handle the Gaza situation. I thought I would share with you Rabbi Ron Kronish’s letter from the Interreligious Coordinating Council in Israel’s monthly newsletter. I highlight this organization because it’s one that you may not know about, I used to work there, and it is working here on the ground in Israel on interfaith dialogue–a difficult task to accomplish in a climate of war. I always enjoy catching up with the work of this organization and hearing Ron’s eloquent words.

Dear friends,

I write this monthly message to you in the midst of the war in Gaza between Israel and Hamas.  This is a very delicate and dangerous time in Israel and the region.

On the one hand, the state of Israel needs to protect its citizens, as any other state would have the responsibility to do the same. When Hamas sends rockets and missiles to Israeli communities all over the southern part of the country, with almost one million Israeli citizens in danger, the leaders of the state cannot refrain forever from some defensive action.

Continue reading


Yom Haatzmaut: Guest Entry from Ron Kronish, ICCI

Dear friends,

On the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the rebirth of the state of Israel, which takes place on May 8th, this year, I take this opportunity to share with you a few personal reflections.

My earliest memories of the State of Israel are centered around my father, Rabbi Leon Kronish, of blessed memory, who was one of the leading Reform Zionist rabbis from the 1960’s till the mid-1980’s. His activism for Israel– especially in the years after the Six Day War, when I was studying at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts and HUC-JIR in New York—was infectious and inspiring. Over the years, when I have been asked why I made aliyah (with my family in June 1979, almost 29 years ago), I respond by saying that I took my father’s sermons too seriously! Continue reading

JPost Article from ICCI

It’s been a while since I’ve written huh? Well I’m actually not going to write something just yet. Instead I’ll share with you an editorial that my boss, Ron Kronish, wrote about religious leaders needing to take the initiative in cultivating empathy for the other side and for encouraging religious conciliation.

The article certainly points to the difficulty in keeping the dialogue going in light of the conflict. These organizations try to affect the conflict by building understanding among peoples, but unfortunately the conflict often ends up impacting them by slowing down efforts.

It takes a great amount of strength to try to move past all of the emotional, historical, psychological, political baggage of the ongoing events and to let violence derail reconciliation efforts. But it is something that both sides must do. I was glad to hear about an event hosted by Jerusalem Peacemakers, which dealt with nonviolent teachings in each religion. I met one of the co-organizers at an event today, and he said that the discussion was a necessary response to the Merkaz HaRav shooting. He felt like it was needed to revive hope. I was also glad to hear that Pardes Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Landes spoke there, and was disappointed I couldn’t attend the event due to a conflict in my schedule. Continue reading

Presidential Visit

Last week, El Presidente Bush came into down. Boy was it nuts. Downtown streets were closed and most of the hotels in town were booked. I constantly heard the sound of helicopers humming throughout the day and a surveillance blimp hovered over the city. While our neck of the woods didn’t feel Bush’s presence as much, we went out of our way to avoid the center of town. We were planning to leave Jerusalem for the weekend, but decided that with all of the road closings were taking place, we would stay put. You would think I would be used to this since I live in Israel. But this level of security was unprecedented, and while I understand the need for it, it felt oppressive at times. Continue reading

Jews and Muslims in the Middle Ages

A few weeks ago, Mark R. Cohen, a professor at Princeton University who wrote the book Under Crescent and Cross, came to ICCI to give a lecture about Jews living under medieval Islamic rule. I wrote up a brief summary of his lecture, and that’s to be included in ICCI’s January newsletter update. Click on the ‘read more’ link to see what I’ve written. Continue reading

It’s Raining, Some Articles for You and Why I Love it Here

Today it rained in Jerusalem for the first time since I’ve been here! Yay, water for the plants and trees! We got the full show thunder and lightening show tonight. Hopefully more rain is on the way.

I was at the shuk this evening after a long period of not going and I started to feel a few drops of rain. I was thankful that Eric was home to bring everything on the Mirpeset, including the laundry, indoors. At my favorite cheese shop, I came across some beer that I hadn’t laid eyes on since I was in the U.S. Sometimes I miss things like good beer (but I don’t really drink much most of the time) real ziplock bags, Banana Republic clothes (yes I’m sorry I know they are sweatshop made). Before my parents come here, I am certainly asking them to bring a small list of items–but don’t worry Mom and Dad I won’t weigh you down! I think that microbreweries are starting to take root here, but I have to do some research (which will, ahem, require me to sample). Continue reading

Erev Sukkot and Abu Gosh

Erev Sukkot is almost here. Jerusalemites prepared for another round of holiday feasts and holiday davening. Once again the supermarkets were packed with people stocking up on their next few meals. But this time people were also buying their Sukkot supplies.

Over the last few days, you could hear people hammering away at their Sukkot and putting in the last touches. Some of the Sukkot have walls made of wood and some are just  prefabricated kits that you can buy off the street. Some have roofs made of reeds and other have roofs made of palms. Many are decorated with decorations that look like they are Christmas decorations. Continue reading