Friday, March 24, 2017

Hodgepodge 146/365 - Shabbat

We just returned from a delightful evening with a young Orthodox couple, Yoni Zierler and Yochi Rappeport, who participate in a local Jerusalem organization called Shabbat of a Lifetime. They invite total strangers—up to sixteen, in our case—into their home and share the Shabbat meal and some of the ceremony. There was no candle lighting (I would have liked that), but we did sing the song "Shalom Aleichem," and Yoni sang "Eishet Chayit," or "A Woman of Valor," to his own tune, which he said he also sang to Yochi during their wedding. And of course there was lots of delicious traditional food to go with the weekly holiday. We also got a booklet full of information about Jerusalem, the Western Wall, and of course Shabbat.

Yoni, originally from the U.S. (Cleveland mostly) but living in Jerusalem these past thirteen years, is a tour guide—one of thousands in Israel; his special beat is Jerusalem, though he sometimes wanders farther afield. He acknowledged admiringly the various spots that we mentioned that we'd visited, saying very few visitors get to go there. Yochi, from Safed in the north, works for Women of the Wall, a multi-denominational feminist organization whose goal is to secure the rights of women to pray as they wish at the Western Wall. They both spoke to us at length about that and similar projects and what they mean culturally, socially, and politically. Although they didn't mention Palestine or the settlements, several in our group concurred that they are probably "right wing," meaning pro-settlement and believing in a "one-state solution." Another fascinating discussion to add to many others from these past ten days, highlighting the great complexity and contradiction that is modern Israel.

We walked to their house from the hotel, and of course back again, a good three-mile round trip that gave us a nice nighttime glimpse of Jerusalem neighborhoods. Tomorrow we'll get to see this great city by daylight. I'm ready!


  1. what a great opportunity...yes, probably right wing correct ( and actually that is where my politics lean when we discuss Israel - if you didnt know that ). * However, working for Woman of the wall is leaning liberal .. so..

    sounds like a lovely evening!

  2. Hi Anne! Fun to discover your post (I'm not even sure how I did). Yochi and I had a great time hosting you guys as well, and are thrilled that we could inspire interesting conversation to continue long after the dishes had been cleared.

    I obviously was not there for the conversation, but thought it important to clarify that we are actually more to the center than to the right, and actually support a two-state solution of one form or another.

    Personally, I am conflicted when it comes to settlements. As a religious Zionist I believe that as Jews we have a right to live in Judea and Samaria and a meed to return to all places in our ancestral home-land. As a realist, I see that, while not the roadblock to peace that many people claim them to be, settlements can send a mixed-message and complicate peace talks. Yochi actually leans more to the left than I do and is much more willing for Israel to turn over certain areas in the name of peace.

    Bybthe way - these days it is possible to be right-wing and still believe in a two-state solution. There is also a growing movement, even among settlers, to bridge the gaps with their Palestinian neighbors and work on creating some form (maybe not the classic on but still) of a two-state solution.

    This is already a long post so I will leave it at this - there are more than 50 shades od gray when dealing with Israeli politics.

    Happy to continue the discussion and explain more via e-mail!
    -Yoni (

  3. Thank you so much Yoni for your response! I will email you. I so appreciate your effort to make the complexity that is Israel more understandable. We live in interesting times...