My wife and I sponsored the kiddish in our little shul the week where the Haftorah related the Exodus from Egypt and the crossing of the Red Sea.
I was asked to make the sermon. I linked it to the important task of making the case forIsrael. Here is an extract of my speech:"I am not going down the route of extracting deep theological or philosophical thought from this weeks portion. As someone who attends services far less than most of you I bow to your richer knowledge of our Hebrew scriptures. In my ignorance, I can''t even fathom why we are reading about the Exodus from Egypt in mid January when our Passover festival isn''t until the second half of April. Anyway, in keeping with tradition, I will link my remarks to this weeks Haftorah segment. Most of you may not be aware of my heavy involvement in hasbara, what they call public advocacy for Israel these days. It is something that each of you could, should, must get involved in. You each have a persobal perspective of what makes Israel a far better country than others, certainly better than all our neighbours. The world has not heard your voice.We may have established our country. We have not yet reached the Promised Land. Just as the Children of Israel were pursued by the Egyptians so are we today being oppressed and hounded by those who wish us harm, to eliminate us, and take away our new found freedom and self determination.Then, in Egypt, we found a moment in history when Pharaoh''s heart was, temporarily, softened sufficiently to allow us to escape our bondage.
More recently, the United Nations heart was temporarily softened to allow us to escape oppression in Nazi Europe and from the Arab nations, and create a state of our own. Would this happen today, given the make up of the United Nations? I doubt it.Then, the ten plagues were inflicted on our enemy. Today, the ten plagues are being inflicted on us - war, terror, demonization, resolutions, boycotts, divestments, sanctions, the Goldstone Report, delegitimization and the tenth is the threat of a nuclear Iran.We are, today, collectively walking through a treacherous and narrow path of isolation, being harried by those malevolent enemies who intend to do us real harm, and I am not merely referring to Palestinians and their Muslim allies. I include the radical left, the liberal West that includes many Jews, the media, the diplomatic world and academia. All have adopted a world view that leaves Israel as the Jew among nations. We may live here, but we have not yet reached the Promised Land. That will come about when we can successfully put our case to the world and become a light among nations.This week''s sedra tells us that God did not lead his people by the direct route to the Promised Land, the short way via Gaza. Instead, they went by way of the wilderness. Didn''t we try to take the short route, via Gaza, to our Promised Land? Clearly, it didn''t work. Don''t we, today, feel ourselves to be in the wilderness, internationally and politically?Doesn''t this week''s parasha say "And the Children of Israel went up armed out of the Land of Egypt, under a cloud by day and fire by night."
Are there not implications here to the cloud of condemnation we are under and the fire of rockets and missiles from Gaza and Lebanon? Doesn''t that mean we are still destined to fight for our right to live, to survive?The Israelites were checked in their progress by many obstacles. As they faced the barrier of the Red Sea ahead of them and with the galloping chariots of the enemy behind them they were sorely afraid. They questioned Moses - their leader - and even God. "Have you taken us out of oppression to die here?" they asked. They were demoralized, confused, prepared to give themselves to their enemy, lacking in faith.Is that not Israel today? Pressured, boycotted, condemned at every turn? Confused, frightened, some prepared to give everything to ur enemy, lacking in conviction, lacking in faith?How did they make it across the rough narrow twisting bed of the Red Sea? When it was clear to them that the alternatives were either to walk the narrow path to the Promised Land or face death and persecution at the hands of the enemy they chose the risky path to freedom and self determination.Yes, they were led, but they all contributed to their redemption. The men helped the weak, the elderly, and infirm. The women helped guide the children and carried the babies. Each did what they could to save Israel.The result of their collective effort was they made it to the Promised Land and witnessed their enemy turn into fish food in the Red Sea.Isn''t that what we, each of us, should be doing today, following the example of the Israelites? Only then will we safely make it to the other side and live securely in our land.You, each of you, can play a part. The Israelites had to step into the threatening banks of water of the Red Sea. They could not leave it to Moses or to God. They had to make their own way across, helping to bring Israel to safety and a new future.So it is today. Most of you cannot serve in the IDF and physically fight for our country but you can, each of you, make your voice heard. You cannot leave it to our leaders to find the way to the other side of the darkness. You each have a story to tell. You each have a resonsibility that comes with living in Israel to talk to people and tell them why you prefer to live here than any other country. Write to the local newspaper, or to the Jewish organization, even the local chuches from the own you left when you set out on your journey to the Jewish state. Speak up for Israel!Tell them the truth about Israel. Tell them about the lies, the deceit, the hypocrisy of our enemy that cause them to pursue and threaten you.You, each of you, have an obligation to make the case for Israel, and help us reach the Promised Land."