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Hartman Rabbinic Seminar Participants in the West Bank

Rabbinic Torah Study Seminar participants write about a tour that sent more than 60 rabbis deep into the Palestinian territories

Two participants in the Rabbinic Torah Study Summer Retreat wrote interesting blog posts about a one-day trip that sent more than 60 rabbis deep into the Palestinian territories, where they viewed for themselves the tremendous complexity of the situation, with Palestinian and Israeli communities in a checkerboard of settlement in the West Bank. The rabbis also visited the Palestinian development town of Rawabi, a planned community of 40,000 with more echoes of Israel’s Modi’in or Maryland’s Columbia County developments than anything previously attempted in the Palestinian territories.
Rabbi Steve Moskowitz, a graduate of the Institute’s Rabbinic Leadership Initiative, wrote of the visit to Rawabi:
Like the settlers he is also creating facts on the ground.  I wonder if the facts are really about which you believe in first. Whose language do you speak? Whose facts do you support? I was left pondering this observation. Many Israelis speak of security and history. This Palestinian, and his employees, spoke of peace and the future. In a world that embraces youth and technology speaking of the past will not endear us to the world. With such eloquent spokesmen who win over the hearts of the world? And even more important to this rabbi, who will win over the hearts of our young people?
Rabbi Barry Leff, a Jerusalem resident and veteran of previous RTS programs, wrote:
Someone on the tour asked [the developers of Rawabi]: "why did you bring us here to show us this, instead of showing us a refugee camp?" I liked the answer: at the refugee camp, all you will see is the problems. At Rawabi, you can see what a solution looks like.  And it was encouraging to see what a solution looks like!  I wish them the best of luck, and hope I can visit the finished project some day.

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