Parshat Noach – By Noah Bickler

Shabbat Shalom Chaverim!

This weeks parsha follows the story of Noah. It is not the tale of and the epic life of a north Leeds Jew nor does it feature Russell Crowe and Emma Watson. Instead it tells the tale of the only righteous man in the world, surrounded by evil and vice. Through G-d’s instruction he goes about picking two of every species and puts them on his massive wooden ship. In all honesty I fail to find relevant meaning to my life or the experiences of our movement through the first part of this story, but when the parsha moves on to the story of ‘the tower of babel’ we can extract more meaning.

So after Noah’s flood it happened to be that everyone spoke the same language. The people of this little world therefore decided to build a great tower and because cooperation was so easy, there was no such thing therefore as human limitation or separation. G-d, quite frustratingly wasn’t having any of it and created all known languages, confusing the construction and dividing the population.

Thinking about the way we cooperate as a human race today raises serious existential questions about our movement today. If Habonim Dror wants to promote peaceful values in Israel and across the world why do we put so much emphasis on our ‘differentness’ or ‘uniqueness’ as a Jewish people. We celebrate what makes us different. Does this mean we have conflicting values? Things like whether to refer to Arab citizens of Israel as ‘Israeli Arabs’ or ‘Arab Israelis’ only perpetuate separation and therefore distrust. Does this mean our jewish values compromise the possibility for creating peace? I would like to think that the answer is no. Our Judaism or our ‘difference’ should never prevent us from actualising our other values. Our values should work in Harmony with each other. Our respect for our own identity, history and culture should create a respect for those of others. It brought great sadness to a lot of people today when Joseph’s tomb in Nablus was torched. But our movement with respect to our collective memory must urge restraint in any retaliation that might destroy that of the Palestinians or of the Islamic world as a whole. At least, that’s what I think.

Aleh Ve Hagshem,