Saturday, May 19, 2012

The challenge of being and contacting

One of the most specific questions that a priest who dedicates his life to bridging Judaism and Christianity/Eastern Orthodoxy by acting respectfully in the Israeli society has to face is how to get into the society and then be present adequately. It deals with human, spiritual and moral credit and full repect without stepping down with regards to striking "issues".

It have spent my life in such actions. In the course of the past 15 years, I progressively developed contacts with the Jewish Israeli society as it grows up somehow; it was not that too difficult in the traditional and "dati" circles though it can be surprising. I feel at home in the country, do answer and discuss the same way the Israelis do. I would never be ashamed of hearing insults or even personal attacks. I had been trained and the Jews themselves had told me very clearly how I should behave. Late Prof. Fr. Kurt Hruby has been a real "educator" because he had no fancy about who is a Jew, who is not a Jew, who is a Christian and that in Israel, no one should even dare have any sort of pretence.

In a world that pathetically longs after love, compassion, "Mitgefühl", loving-kindness, rudeness is the reaction a priest - moreover a member of the Orthodox Church - must expect. Treason is treason, betrayal does exist for the Jews, there can be "slips, mental slips" that happen quite often when some Jews would opine the priest has offended Judaism though, on the contrary, he tried to explain it and to describe its position.

This is the consequence of century-old sufferings that are totally unknown to the Christians, opaque to them for the better part, even when they show compassion and interest. The gap is immense and, as Fr. Kurt Hruby used to say and this became my motto "it will take centuries to repair centuries of hatred and distrust, ignorance".

Some 9_10 months again, I got very interested in the Tel Aviv "Tents of Justice" movement. To begin with, I did not know how to do. I decided that there are a lot of proficient and efficient women involved in the movement. I decided to contact them and then through them to get some contacts with men journalists, reporters, actors inside of the Israeli society. I had been in contact with some writers and poets because of the book Shoshana Vegh had dedicated to me (Kontris Sheli).

I would not really pretend I am accepted. Tolerated is more realistic. Sometimes, because people are very frank till rude in this country, the question is uttered of who and why I am where I am and acting as I do. But this does not concern me alone; it is not an isolated action. It took about 6 years to convince some Israelis that it does make sense to pray in Hebrew in the Orthodox Church as it started some 170 years ago, even before T. Herzl and E. Ben Yehudah. When they discovered it does exist inside of a Church tradition that is profoundly reluctant to Jewishness, Hebrew, Israeli culture and style etc... and that my task is not a personal matter but try to pave the way to a much longer activity and future, they got interested. Perseverence helped. I also can intervene anywhere because I am among "mines" even if we got a bit aside, just a bit and not too much in fact.

Among some writers or new friends on Facebook - to some extent also in real life so far they are not too scared to get into real contact (it may take a lot of time) - and also from many social networks, I try to share in Hebrew the richness and depth of some reflection, activities, thoughts and actions, ideas that do influence Israeli society from inside. This reality does not appear in any Christian media; Christian clergy does not write in Israeli papers on a regular basis. I had a weekly blog on the Jerusalem Post for years and intervene in more "Orthodox Jewish medium".

On the other hand, I can access very rich writings, full of insights and sensitivity. On the Live Journal I had been for years in contacts with Israeli bloggers that preferred to write in Russian. It has been very instructive to get the information of the way they understand their participation in the Israeli "civilization". Hebrew was merely a "dry" language with "short clearcut words" compared to the "wealth of the Slavic lexicon, grammar, phrases and sounds". I still face this because of my Service.

There are also people who do write in the same prfound and insightful way in Hebrew and it is important at least to try to propose it online. It is not that important to know how many would read them in the Christian world. I got involved in Yiddish research and Wikipedia, many Jewish men and women share and are somehow interested in the fact that - no way, just no way but the Holy Land will always be a Christian area in a Jewish and Israeli society and country, geographical and historical context.

It is a challenge. There is no partisanship in such activities. It simply shows that we do exist even when people would be ready to deny or reject or show deep opacity.

We all need each other in a society. Israel is multi-faceted by nature, essence and it may work because of the spirit of prophecy that inspires all the inhabitants when they accept to go and march in.

av aleksandr (Winogradsky Frenkel)

Yom Yerushalayim 5772