Created: Friday, 13 March 2015 14:09
Written by Rabbi Glazier
On Tuesday, March 3rd Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke before a joint session of Congress. In preparation of the Prime Minister's speech I cleared my calendar so as to afford me the opportunity to watch and listen.
I know much has already been shared about the Prime Minister's historic visit to Congress. Some have hailed it while others have disapproved. It's not my intention to wade my way through these conflicting currents. Rather I'd like to take a moment and consider some of the less discussed elements of the Prime Minister's appearance and speech.
What a profound command of the English language Mr. Netanyahu possesses. Few native born Americans can speak with such command and confidence. The Prime Minister speaks without any discernable Israeli accent. When you hear him speak you can be easily convinced that he was born here in America. The ability to speak with such mastery places Mr. Netanyahu at an extreme advantage particularly with respect to connecting with the American public.
I felt so proud to see Israel's Prime Minister speak before Congress. Here it's less about who the Prime Minister happens to be and more about America's deep and abiding relationship with Israel. Israel is beloved by millions in our nation as exemplified by the Prime Minister's warm welcome in the capital. As an American and a Jew I pray that the relationship between these two democratic states will endure.
And finally I was reminded by the Prime Minister's speech that the vital interests of both the United States and Israel are one and the same. What threatens the United States threatens Israel. And conversely what threatens Israel threatens the United States. Truth be told what Mr. Netanyahu shared could have been shared by any of our elected officials either in Washington or in Jerusalem.
Sometimes it's important to get above the pettiness, above the arguments of whether the Prime Minister should or should not have come and see the larger picture. Iran is a threat, to not only to Israel but to the United States as well. I thank Mr. Netanyahu for bringing that sad but true reality home.
Created: Wednesday, 04 February 2015 13:46
Written by Rabbi Glazier
Jewish life in Vermont doesn’t come to be without a high degree of commitment and hard work. The synagogues, Hillel, the Israel Center and our newly established Jewish Communities of Vermont group are all the result of this commitment and hard work and for that I am extremely grateful. Frequently Jews visiting Vermont from more urban areas are astonished to learn about the depth and breadth of Jewish life in our state. I recently read an article by Michele Schipper in the blog “My Jewish Learning,” entitled, “Southern and Jewish” Does Not Mean “Less Jewish.” I’ve posted the article below. I highly recommend reading it and when you do, think “Vermont” every time you see the word “Mississippi.” Let me know if you feel the same way.
All the best, Rabbi James Scott Glazier
My family flew to Los Angeles two weeks ago to attend the funeral of my father-in-law, z’’l. We had been with him for a visit in December, and we are grateful for these good and recent memories. He was truly a wonderful man. Throughout this journey to Los Angeles, many emotions flowed through us. We were relieved that he’s no longer suffering, sad that he won’t be here for so many lifecycle events and moments with the grandchildren. I was expecting to feel those emotions. I was unprepared for some of the others that came up while we were there.
My husband grew up in the L.A. area, and his parents and his brother and extended family still live there. We are the ones who don’t – the “family that lives in Mississippi.” At the shiva house, as people chatted after the service, I received an odd comment, from a woman I did not know. The woman said: “I noticed your children seemed to be able to really participate in the service with the Hebrew… and you’re from Mississippi? That’s wonderful.”
In that moment, I think I was in shock, so being the “polite woman from Mississippi” I simply responded by saying thank you and moved on to the next person. However, two weeks later, it’s still bothering me – it’s that itch that’s in the middle of your shoulder blade that you just can’t reach so it just keeps irritating.
I’m sure this woman felt like she was complimenting my children, but the implication that they would be Jewish illiterates because we live in Mississippi is infuriating and ridiculous! Yes, it’s wonderful that my children are from Mississippi and have learned Hebrew, attend religious school, participate in youth group, and so on. But it shouldn’t be shocking, and I imagine there are others who share this woman’s sentiment.
Raising Jewish children anywhere can be a challenge. You have to work at participating in the Jewish community. It’s very easy to sit at home and not get involved. We have been active in our synagogue and involved in Jewish organizations. We go to Shabbat services, religious school, holiday celebrations and programs at the synagogue. We have a Shabbat meal together, and our children are enriched by going to Jewish summer camp. Two of our children have gone on a NFTY-in-Israel program, and our third will go once he turns sixteen.
We enjoy a fulfilling Jewish life here in Jackson, Mississippi. We don’t enjoy it “in spite of where we live”—we enjoy it because we seek it out. We participate. We make the effort. You can live in Los Angeles and do nothing Jewish beyond going to a good deli and eating fresh lox. And you can live in Mississippi and do something Jewish every day. It’s not about where you live—wherever you live, it’s about the choices you make.
The legacy that my husband’s parents gave him, raising him in Los Angeles, and the legacy my parents gave me, raising me in Mississippi, is a shared one: we are committed to being active participants in the Jewish community. It is a legacy that I hope our children take with them – wherever they may choose to live as adults.
And to that I proudly say, “shalom, y’all”— from Jackson, Mississippi.