Jerusalem Day Flag Parade is a Reckless Embarrassment

I just got (another…) flat, while driving home from work, in Israel. In that this happened to me not that long ago and I had some much-needed additional coaching from my good friend Jamal on how to change a tire, today I was determined to do it myself. I wasn’t 100 percent sure that I would succeed, but I wanted to try.

What I was 100 percent sure of, was that someone would almost immediately stop to help me. And, I was right. Just as I was positioning the jack, my new friend Omar asked if he could change the tire for me. I haven’t even heard him pull off the road, but there he was. He changed the flat in and as I expected, refused to accept anything other than my words of gratitude as thanks for his kindness. Instead, he escorted me to the tire shop to replace the tire, where I am writing this. Here too, I was offered coffee and conversation while I wait. As Halil and I chat about our daughters and the weather, I reflect on the fact that the whole ordeal has added no stress to my day, just two new friends.

And the fact that in two days we three, Omar, Halil and I could be sheltering from Hezbollah rockets raining down because my government cannot resist flexing its muscles because it can, because it does not realize that true power comes in restraint, not posturing, is more than I can bear.

For as long as we Jews have dreamed of Zion we have recognized that there is both “Jerusalem shel malah” (Heavenly Jerusalem) and “Jerusalem shel mata” (Earthly Jerusalem). Both exist. Jerusalem is at once a dream and also a municipality with zip codes and trash collection and people of every faith tradition. The great challenge of the modern State of Israel is knowing the difference between the two and making space for both. By parading with Israeli flags through the Muslim quarter on Sunday, an act filled with nostalgia for Heavenly Jerusalem, Israel just might spark yet another war in this earthly place, where I swear to you, most just want to live and let live.

For this Israeli, the Jerusalem Day Flag Parade is a reckless embarrassment of the worst kind.

And, if you’re in Israel, here’s the contact for Omar’s body shop. It’s run by the kind of man who stops to help, just because, and accepts only gratitude in return.

Rabbi Sara Brandes is a hands-on healer who makes her home in the north of Israel. She will be teaching at Adath on Shabbat, July 23, 2022, and spending a few days locally seeing clients.