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A Rosh Hashanna Gift

by mymicz Saturday, Sep. 27, 2003 at 5:58 AM

Ethnocentrism or just ehnicity?

I have been offering a free trip to Israel for Jewish adults from 18-26. It's sponsored by an organization called Birthright Israel that invites Jews from all over the world, including Russia, Argentina, and France, to come and see what Israel is all about. The donations come primarily from wealthy businesspeople, actors, moguls. The nature of the trip is educational. Several times I have been asked why it is not open to other races, the basic premise is that there is only enough funding to send people who have a vested historical interest in this type of tour, in other words, people who want to know their roots in Judaism because all activities are tied in.
All of the sites seen are traditional holy sites, and the food prepared is Kosher. The tour includes meetings and dances with Ethopian Jews, Yemenite Jews, Orthodox Jews, and a shabbat service, among other things like a moonlight cruise and a ride on a camel.
Recently I have been getting flagged on Craig's list because people think this tour is ethnocentric.
Is it wrong for people to get together to give a gift in the name of their religion?
In Judaism, all Jewish children belong to the same tribe. The goal is that we offer our children an opportunity to learn. No other organization of other faiths has even tried to join in and help out.
But still, I myself would love to have other faiths and cultures along on the tour.
Yet the one thing I keep thinking, is that in America we should have the freedom to have a religious tour, or an ethnic tour, to benefit an ethnicity or a culture.
We need to preserve our differences so as not to become bland and conforming.
We sometimes need that feeling of belonging, to recognize that everyone has the need to belong to something. That way we can understand another persons closeness to his culture or race.
I was once told by a Native American shaman that to have good medicine I must go back to my own roots.
That is what this tour was for me.
So if there are any progressive Jewish kids over 18 and under 26 out there on Indymedia, and if you want to see Israel for free this winter, to check your roots, and perhaps afterwards start a program to help all faiths and races go somewhere to check theirs, drop me an e-mail.
Those who choose can even extend their flights for pennies and visit more progressive places with me, like the school in Jerusalem where Arabs learn Hebrew while Jews learn Arabic, or some tshuva healing and peace groups. We will be missing the international peace march by our flight date, but hopefully there will be a lot of progressives still there.
Israel is more than just a news story. It is a place where I have felt at home for the first time in my life.
There is a magic there you will not believe.
Please forgive me for not being able to offer this to everyone, if I was the funding millionare, believe me I would.
amatex@covad.net
be sure to let me know you're from Indymedia
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