Thursday, March 5, 2009

My Peace Proposal

Let's establish first that Peace must begin on a small scale, with changes in the attitudes of individuals and the desire of individuals to live differently and better. Let us also establish that in many cultures, but especially Judaism, food and meals are the center of human interaction among both families and friends.

Living in Israel, I observe with pain the division and animosity (which sometimes leads to physical violence) between various sectors of the Jewish population. Religious and Secular. Religious and Ultra-Orthodox. Sephardic and Ashkenazic. Sabras and Immigrants. Immigrants and Immigrants.

The upcoming major holiday of Pessach accentuates these differences, with the normal dietary restrictions overlaid with the hot subject of "Kitniot" (Legumes), a food group which Sephard Jews can eat and Ashkenaz Jews shouldn't even look at, lest they turn to stone. (I will not even start with the Gebrachts issue.)

You see it in the supermarkets, which gouge the customers as soon as they add a little sticker on an item that says "Kosher for Passover." Most items in the supermarket are "Kosher for Passover for those who are allowed to eat Kitniot." Furthermore, many would argue that I cannot even visit my Sephardi friends during the holiday, as I would be exposing myself to forbidden Ashkenazi foods.

Kitniot, like many things in Judaism, is qualified as "minhag," a custom with deep roots in history. Now that all Jews - and for that matter, all beings - are connected through globalization, and we live side-by-side in the same JEWISH country, I say we knock down the wall of Kitniot. I say we allow all Jews, religious and non-religious, to eat together and enjoy each other's company on a holiday which celebrates our common past and our families.

One small step of dining together could lead to major developments in Israel, such as the end of the Shas (Ultra-Religious Sephardic) political party; such as a basic understanding and growing tolerance for each other as people rather than ethnic groups. And most importantly, the unification of the Israeli and world-wide Jewish population, which will change the way the international community expects to treat us.

Anti-Semites can be fought more easily, and Israel would not be pushed into deals with terrorists, because our inherent right to live and live safely would be respected.

Together we are strong, and together we can decisions for the future of all our people.

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