Rabbi Donniel Hartman: ‘When we come to Israel with only one Jewish access point, Israel and the Jewish people lose.’ The Jewish Standard publishes a series of articles on the iEngage Project after an interview with Rabbi Donniel Hartman and as the project begins in New Jersey.
We heard that clearly in the presidential debates. But dig just a bit below the surface, below the fireworks and bellowing smoke of presidential politics, and you learn that younger Jews increasingly care less about the Jewish state.
That’s why the Hartman program, iEngage, is trying to advance Americans’ understanding of the country, on the theory that you can more truly love what you more fully understand.
Many Jewish institutions across the area are using the iEngage program, which is funded by the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey, and some are adding their own speakers and programs to it. That group includes Temple Emanu-El of Closter, which will host two speakers in residence over the next two Shabbatot, among many other people and programs.
The topic of Donniel Hartman’s talk at the Kaplen JCC on the Palisades on Thursday is “The Tribes of Israel.”
His talk will “tell the story of how in fact Jewish life in Israel has undergone some dramatic changes in the past 15 years,” Hartman said. It will present “a picture of a religiously diverse and dynamic Israel – and one that has a potential for far more similarity with North American Jewry than most North American Jews and even Israelis themselves understand.”
Hartman uses the word “tribes” to describe Israel’s different communities as a way to refer to the interplay of unity and diversity in earliest Jewish history.
Jewish tradition “talks of a community that grows out of a family. Embedded in the story of the family is the story of particular tribes, each with their own conflicts and interests,” he said. “Differences and how to live with differences is an integral part of our national story."
When Rabbi Donniel Hartman speaks at the Kaplen JCC on the Palisades next week, it will be his first time back at the institution where served as scholar-in-residence from 1984 through 1995.
Now Hartman heads the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem. Founded by his father, Rabbi David Hartman, and named for his grandfather, the Hartman Institute’s current focus is reflected in the iEngage program being offered at area synagogues and institutions with the support of the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey. The program aims to reorient the conversation about Israel to one about Jewish values.