Our group spent the day with staff from Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem and Bethlehem International Center.

Shalom Hartman Institute is a Jewish research and education institute that offers pluralistic Jewish thought and education to scholars, rabbis, educators, and Jewish community leaders. The Institute’s goal is to develop new and diverse voices within the Jewish tradition. Dr. Marcie Lenk led the group in a study on “Holiness and Complexity,” which included the reading of the following poem by Yehuda Amichai, one of Israel’s foremost poets:

Tourists

Visits of condolence is all we get from them.

They squat at the Holocaust Memorial,

They put on grave faces at the Wailing Wall And they laugh behind heavy curtains in their hotels.

They have their pictures taken

Together with our famous dead

At Rachel’s Tomb and Herzl’s Tomb

And on Ammunition Hill.

They weep over our sweet boys

And lust after our tough girls

And hang up their underwear

To dry quickly

In cool, blue bathrooms.

Once I sat on the steps by a gate at David’s Tower, I placed my two heavy baskets at my side.  A group of tourists was standing around their guide and I became their target marker.  “You see that man with the baskets?  Just right of his head there’s an arch from the Roman period.  Just right of his head.”  “But he’s moving, he’s moving!”

I said to myself:  redemption will come only if their guide tells them, “You see that arch from the Roman period?  It’s not important: but next to it, left and down a bit, there sits a man who’s bought fruit and vegetables for his family.”

Students and alumni pass through the main entrance gates of the Shalom Hartman Institute, Jerusalem.

Students and alumni pass through the main entrance gates of the Shalom Hartman Institute, Jerusalem.

Cindy Riddick (M.Div.’13) and second year M.T.S. student Sungmoon Lee engage in discussion at the Shalom Institute.

Cindy Riddick (M.Div.’13) and second year M.T.S. student Sungmoon Lee engage in discussion at the Shalom Institute.

Research fellow Dr. Marcie Lenk leads class at the Shalom Hartman Institute.

Research fellow Dr. Marcie Lenk leads class at the Shalom Hartman Institute.