Monday, August 8, 2011

The Hebrew Man, the Protests and Tisha B'Av

I have been watching the protests in Israel from my computer while at working as a faculty member at Eisner camp. I think they might be a step forward, but I am the last person to draw any meaningful conclusions at this early stage. I am hoping you, my chevrei, can help me to make meaning from it all.

This arrived today from the Makom Blog. I thought given the fact that Tisha B'av begins tonight, and the fact that I have always found Ehud Banai's music and writing to be very thoughtful, it would be worth sharing. And I want to recommend you visit and bookmark Makom for yourself if you have not already doen so. It is a tremendous resource for educators and for all Jews who are serious about engaging Israel. And here is a link (from the Makom site) to all of the editorials from the Israel press about the protests. 

MAKOM is a partnership between Jewish communities and the Jewish Agency for Israel. It describes itself as "a 'next-practice' endeavor, forming and driving experimental community networks that meet the call of re-imagining the place of Israel in Jewish life. MAKOM works to empower Jewish educators, rabbis, arts and community leaders to develop deep, sophisticated and honest Israel programming. Our team, based in Israel and New York, is made up of experts in travel, education, arts, and religion. We see this relationship between Haaretz.com and MAKOM as a vital step towards enriching the public discourse about the place of Israel in the Jewish world."

Tisha B'Av and the Protests
Ehud Banai is a leading Israeli singer-songwriter.
This piece first appeared in Hebrew on http://www.ehudbanai.co.il/

Sometimes I ask myself why the sages determined that the days commemorating the destruction of the Temples should be days of mourning and fasting. After all, it was the Babylonians and the Romans after them who caused all the exile and destruction, so why aren’t they fasting?

But the gaze of the sages is as always directed internally. They ask in the Gemara: For what reason was the land destroyed?

And they bring a collection of stories that recall a society with no mercy, no justice, eaten up with senseless hatred, with violent nationalist fanaticism, with a corrupt and patronizing government, and they state very clearly: This is why the land was destroyed.

The social protest that is breaking out now is important, fundamental, and unavoidable.

I’m not sure if it’s right to follow its every step and stride with cameras and the media. I’m not convinced that it’s right to turn it into another summer festival. You have to give it time. Real things permeate slowly and deeply and only then can a fundamental change occur, rather than a superficial change that passes just as soon as it came.

On the other hand, all attempts to belittle it, to declare it null and void, to say that it is political and only connected to one specific group is not right. It is a true cry that comes from the heart of the people onto the streets, and it crosses boundaries and sectors.

Right now I can’t perform at the tents, because these are the nine days of mourning leading up to Tisha b’Av when it’s not customary to play music. There are those who say that it’s permissible to sing without accompaniment, but I’m afraid I can’t really do that without a guitar…

Beyond that, I want to say that I’m really not comfortable with all the media pressure about who’s performing  and who is not performing. Which singer is behind the revolution and which isn’t. That isn’t really what is important.

I’ve been asked to come to support the tent-dwellers, in places far from the center of the country and far from the cameras, like Tel Hai and Katzrin.

I wanted to tell them: My heart is completely with you. If you’re still around after Tisha b’Av, I’ll come over and sing you “City of Sanctuary.”


 
A City of Refuge*
by Ehud Banai 

Before the drizzle becomes a flood
I need to find an unlocked gate
because the blues has come back to me again
I need to get out, I need to move
on the highway winding between Acco and Zfat
In Tiberias on the pier, going all the way down to Eilat
Surging, escaping, looking for a city of refuge
Surging, escaping, looking for a city of refuge

On the horizon the distance lights glimmer
I`ll get there with the last of my strength
And you wait in the doorway, turn the light on
a man is coming back to you from the cold
Take me to the alter, before I fall apart
and until the truth comes out, I`ll hide in you
because you, yes you, will be my city of refuge

Yes, until the truth comes out, I`ll hide in you
until the storm blows over and the ice breaks
until a spring bursts open flowing
until the judge comes and acquits us
you, yes you, will be my city of refuge

*"Ir Miklat" is biblical term from Numbers 35- a city of refuge when someone who has committed accidental murder can safely escape the vindictive actions of the victim`s family. Banai transforms this term into metaphor for the role of his beloved as he desperately seeks refuge from his own troubles and "blues." - From Ehud Banai's web site

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