Navigating the Crazy: Jews in the News

This has been a strange week to be part of the American Jewish community. Many of us may be feeling a general sense of unease in the wake of a series of statements and tweets from the resident of the White House, each one more "off" than the one before it.

This has been a strange week to be part of the American Jewish community. Many of us may be feeling a general sense of unease in the wake of a series of statements and tweets from the resident of the White House, each one more "off" than the one before it.

To the extent that these statements touch a nerve, it's with good reason. We have plenty of experience of having internal debate within the American Jewish community about how we should relate to the State of Israel, but it feels very different to have an outsider telling us what this relationship "should" look like... it feels awful to know that we're being used for political gain. Furthermore, language about Jewish loyalty and disloyalty stirs up the history of antisemitic accusations, as does Trump's bizarre evangelical Christian re-tweet that seems to conflate his lack of support from American Jews with the old trope about the Jewish rejection of Jesus.

First, there's lots of thoughtful analysis out there, and if you're feeling a bit overwhelmed in the midst of all of the attention that's being poured on our Jewish world, reading or listening to someone else's take might be helpful. A few pieces I'd recommend are Bernard Avishai's political analysis in the New Yorker, Peter Beinart's Forward op-ed on bipartisan support for Israel, and this morning's interview with professor Hasia Diner on the Takeaway. For those of you in our Facebook groups, when you come across other helpful articles and resources, please feel free to share, as we're all trying to navigate this craziness together!

Second, having Jewish news in the headlines also underscores the importance of having a home-base community and knowing who WE believe we are. Kavana is a place where we can always return to the basics together... for example, the fact that Jews are called on to be loyal to God and to a set of moral values, and that these obligations outweigh any loyalty we might have to a human ruler. You might say (with no irony and no reference to Hebrew National hotdogs) that we answer to a higher authority! How we live out our core values in our treatment of one another and our engagement with society is of utmost importance. All of this is why we are here, endeavoring to build a sacred community together.

Moving forward, please keep us posted if you have thoughts for how Kavana can support you in better navigating the crazy... there are already ideas in the works for an adult ed series about antisemitism, and we're open to other suggestions. And, you'll note below (and in last week's newsletter too) that there have been a string of losses in recent weeks, as several Kavana partners have experienced the death of a parent. Reaching out to offer comfort to a fellow community member is a great example of a small act of kindness... one that will make you feel good, and precisely the antidote to the grand sweeping craziness that's floating around out there.