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Israeli-Palestinian Peace Talks resource page

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This resource page will offer you background, analysis and commentary on the talks - anything you need to follow the new diplomatic initiative.





Is the Land Holy?

peace_parsha_logo186x140.jpg By Rabbi Alana Suskin

About them, the words of Jeremiah ring as true today as they did when they were spoken--"You entered and defiled My land."

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by Rabbi Mark Asher Goodman

If you follow God's commandments, you will have peace (shalom) in the land of Israel. And you will dwell in security (la'vetach). And you when you chase your enemies, they will fall by your sword. What kind of 'peace' and 'security' is it if violence is still seemingly ensured?

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By Rabbi Fred Scherlinder Dobb

The basic rules of kashrut - which animals we eat, and which we avoid (meat-milk strictures came later) - are outlined this week in Parshat Shemini, Leviticus 11. While some say that keeping kosher is a chok, a dictum, with no clear rationale, others place it among the mishpatim, righteous rules given for real reasons - with ethics, public health, peoplehood, and spiritual development among the common explanations.

Every person must see themselves as if they had left Egypt

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Each year at Passover, Jews read this line in the haggadah, "In every generation a person is obligated to see themselves as if they had left Egypt." Why? Because each of us should understand that in our generation, just as in our ancestors' generation, the status quo is not inevitable. The pharaohs of Egypt thought themselves gods, considered themselves invincible, and believed that their power could not be overthrown. The Jews, living in daily humiliation and under the hand of a foreign power, believed that their troubles would never end. But they were all wrong. Societies founded on inequality, on domination of others, on ruling those who do not wish to be ruled cannot, in the arc of history, last. In every generation there is a wrong to be righted. Today, it is in our hands to right it.

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by Rabbi Dr. Aryeh Cohen

peace_parsha_logo186x140.jpgBy Ben Murane

A new ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip enters its second week as Jews around the world examine Jacob and Esau's reconciliation in Parshat Vayeshlach. Truthfully, the passage feels a world away: Israel and Hamas did not run to each other in tearful rapprochement like Jacob and Esau. And the prospects of final status negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians - Fatah and Hamas both - seem as distant as Biblical history.  But beneath the initial reading, this parsha helps us to strive for the ideal reconciliation while recognizing real negotiations can be less euphoric.

Peace Parsha: The Character that Creates Peace

peace_parsha_logo186x140.jpg By Rabbi Joshua Levine Grater from the Pasadena Jewish Temple and Center in Pasadena, CA.

I had the honor of hearing Israeli President and elder statesman Shimon Peres last week in Los Angeles. Coming off a week where the tenor for war against Iran was being ramped by Prime Minister Netanyahu and in the halls of AIPAC, it was refreshing to hear President Peres say that diplomacy is always the preferred option, that Israel is a nation that values and cherishes peace, and that the morals of our people, based on the Torah, call us to a higher purpose in life than political expediency.
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The Rabbis always understood that the Torah is a document that must be interpreted. Throughout our history we have always understood that we cannot have direct access to God's meaning but are always bounded by the need to put it in human terms. Therefore, insisting that any particular meaning is the only meaning - whether it's about the borders or settling the land, how to dress, or anything else -- is dangerous.

Peace Parsha: Becoming Truly Free

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Rabbi Rachel Goldenberg is the spiritual leader of Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek ("house of peace/pursuers of justice!") in Chester, CT. She serves as co-chair of Rabbis for Human Rights-North America and is a member of the Rabbinic Cabinet of JStreet. She is also an alumna of the Institute for Jewish Spirituality.

Fear Gets in the Way

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This week's Torah portion offers us a message about the need for us to act with courage and act decisively to prevent disaster

In this portion, we have many great inspiring moments: crossing the sea to escape Pharaoh, the song of the sea afterwards, the fight against the nation of Amalek. In fact, in this week's Torah portion, the Israelites see literally dozens of miracles - miracles come fast and furious, one after another.

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Rabbi Amy Eilberg is the first woman ordained as a Conservative rabbi by the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. Rabbi Eilberg directs interfaith dialog programs in Minneapolis/St. Paul, and is deeply engaged in peace and reconciliation efforts in connection with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as well as with issues of conflict within the Jewish community. She is at work on a book on Judaism and peacemaking.

Hardening of the heart is a deadly spiritual condition

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Barry Leff is a rabbi and business executive living in Jerusalem. He is the chairman of Rabbis for Human Rights and serves on the board of the Schechter Rabbinical Seminary. He blogs at www.neshamah.net

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Peace Parsha: Moses as Israel

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Shaul Magid is the Jay and Jeannie Schottenstein Professor of Modern Judaism at Indiana University/Bloomington. He is also the rabbi of the Fire Island Synagogues in Sea View, NY. His new book American Post-Judaism: Identity and Renewal in a Postethnic Society will be published next year with Indiana University Press.

2012: Don't Give Up - Don't Give In!

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A Beginning of Year Letter from Debra DeLee

I write to you this first week of 2012 with a challenge: I challenge you to re-commit yourself to Israeli-Palestinian peace and to resolve not to give in to frustration, pessimism, skepticism, or cynicism. Popular wisdom holds that during an election year, no progress is possible toward peace. I challenge you to stand with Americans for Peace Now, and our colleagues and friends at Peace Now in Israel, and refuse to give in to this logic.

The past year saw many painful developments. But 2011 also gave us a welcome gift: clarity.

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Rabbi Dr. Aryeh Cohen is Associate Professor of Rabbinic Literature at the Zeigler School of Rabbinic Studies in Los Angeles. He is a founding member of the Shtibl minyan and the Interfaith Sanctuary at Occupy LA.

I was sent to preserve life!

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"Now, do not be grieved or angry..." With these words, Joseph forgives his brothers. In this week's portion, we learn a powerful lesson about the power we have to forgive and move forward- seeking peace and mutual survival over seeking revenge and becoming mired in past wrongs.

Peace Parshah: What is the miracle of Chanukah?

peace_parsha_logo186x140.jpg The miracle of Chanukah is that we can achieve the seemingly impossible - if we take the first steps.

This week as we celebrate Chanukah, we celebrate a miracle. The miracle we celebrate is not simply the miracle of the oil, but the celebration of achieving the seemingly impossible. We celebrate the ability of humans, doing the right thing, with conviction, to upend the status quo and to serve the interest of their people and the will of God.

Listening to Joseph

peace_parsha_logo186x140.jpg Is it possible to hear those we hate?

At the beginning of this week's Torah portion Vayeshev (which means "he dwelt"), the patriarch Jacob is living in Canaan with his children. Jacob has many children, but Joseph, the elder son of his beloved wife Rachel, is favored.
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