June 3 - 6, 2018: Time to Catch-Up

I have been remiss in not updating the blog, and I feel a little guilty.  A lot has happened, though without the formal structure of the mission, I have been filling my time with new experiences and not taking the time to process via this blog.  So to catch up:

June 3, the last day of the ARZA Mission was spent with the leadership of the IRAC, Israel Religious Action Center, the political and legal representation of the IMPJ.  While supporting the work of many NGO’s who are expert in other areas of social justice, the IRAC focuses its efforts in four key social justice issues: 1. Working for equality for non-orthodox streams of Judaism, 2. dismantling of the orthodox monopoly over many aspects of daily life and personal identity, 3. eliminating gender segregation in the public sphere, and 4. fighting against ideological and programmatic racism.  We then met with Anat Hoffman, Executive Director of IRAC and Chairwoman of Women of the Wall, and proceeded with her to the southern section of the Western Wall to the egalitarian prayer space.  Together, we held an afternoon service, exposing a squad of Israeli soldiers who happened to be on an educational trip to their first egalitarian worship experience.  It was quite a moving moment.  After which, we retired to the Judean hills and had a closing banquet at Kibbutz Tzuba. 

June 4, beginning of the flights to Cape Town.  

June 5, arrived in Cape Town with all my luggage this time.  After collecting SIM cards for my phone and the rental car, I began my harrowing trip to my lodging.  Though I am quite comfortable driving a manual transmission, I am not accustomed to using my left hand to shift gears, to sitting on the right side of the car to drive, and to driving on the left side of the road.  One of the subtle difficulties is understanding distances and speeds in kilometers.  Finally, I safely arrived with a minimum of incident.  Met my host and began to unpack.  

My colleague, Rabbi Greg Alexander picked me up and took me for lunch and an introduction to my neighborhood Kenilworth, Cape Town.  I then ventured out on my own to a local super market, which offered new food items like Ostrich burgers, Malvah pudding, and several types of biltong, just to mention a few.  By this point, the overnight travel, new climate, and environs caught up to me and I was done for the day.  Additionally, the prospect of an early planning meeting the next morning with the clergy team made bed even more inviting.  

June 6, I met Rabbi Malcolm Matitiani with whom I planned a service for Saturday morning.  Later in the afternoon, I was privileged to witness the final session of Temple Israel’s Keter Torah Academy, their post “BarMi” program.  Then dinner with Rabbi Greg and his family.  A truly wonderful welcome into a very new and different Reform community and South African culture.

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