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:
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.”