Sometimes I feel that I am forced to choose between my love for the Jewish people and Israel and my desire to embrace and heal the whole world. I know this is a question many Jewish leaders grapple with — the universal versus the particular; where to put our time, talent and treasure. There is an Israeli organization doing fantastic work in developing countries, while at the same time raising up Jewish values and even text study and learning — for both Israelis and North American Jews. The organization is called Tevel b’Tzedek (Righteousness in the World, or for humanity) and I wanted to tell Wexner alums about their amazing upcoming trip to Nepal, September 4-14, 2017.
This trip, led by Yossi Klein Halevi and Rabbi Micha Odenheimer, founding director of Tevel b’Tzedek, is an exercise in bringing those two things together. Most of us know Yossi — he has taught at Wexner many times and is one of the most articulate writers and thinkers, with a gift for reading the contemporary map of the world and pinpointing the Jewish place on that map. On this trip, he will be talking to us about Israeli culture and Israel in the world today, and also exploring the worlds of Buddhism and Hinduism and their relationship to Judaism, as only a gifted thinker and journalist can.
Micha has been writing and teaching about the developing world, Torah and global issues for 25 years already. Tevel b’Tzedek has been working in Nepal for ten years, transforming rural villages in crisis from hunger and forced migration to sustenance and opportunity. Embedded in this work are service learning programs for young Israelis and Diaspora Jews who learn how their Jewishness can feed and nourish their global justice work. The trip goes deep into the villages, and you will go more remote than maybe you have been before, seeing people’s lives, their challenges and solutions, firsthand. That part of the trip will be roughing it, but back in Kathmandu, we will be staying in luxury hotels and the trip is going to explore the riches of South Asian culture and the intersections with Judaism…Shall we get a group of alumni together and go together? Let me know if you are interested.
Francine M. Gordon, an alum of the Wexner Heritage Program (Cleveland 2), is a supporter of Tevel b’Tzedek and involved in many other Jewish organizations. Fran has also melded her activism regarding the democratic and Jewish character of Israel into her love of and passion for Jewish music, specifically Jewish choral music, and founded The Sacred Rights, Sacred Song Project — a multi-composer Cantata that through chorus, soloists, orchestra and narration raises communal concern over the state of affairs in Israel. While retaining her Cleveland home, she has also established a residence in New York (UWS), allowing her to pursue her love of Broadway, Jewish music, passionate Conservative Judaism and a wonderful relationship. Francine can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.