Parting shot: Small changes, large ripples

Yom Kippur puts Israel in an idyllic place where people stop strangers just to shake their hand.

A boy rides his bike on the empty Ayalon highway on Yom Kippur (photo credit: REUTERS)
A boy rides his bike on the empty Ayalon highway on Yom Kippur
(photo credit: REUTERS)
It may feel like a dream, but only a couple days ago Israel was close to idyllic. The streets were empty of vehicles, and filled with a finely dressed populace wearing odd footwear walking amid swarms of kids on bikes. People, just like Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter once wrote, were “stopping strangers just to shake their hand.” There was a noticeable lack of mobile devices glued to everyone’s eyes, and there were no constant breaking news updates chronicling the latest dire rumblings on the mainland and abroad.
If only it could be like that all the time – but aided by the bonus of some good food thrown in for our exemplary behavior.
Since that’s not likely to happen, there are perhaps some adjustments that could be implemented in Israeli society to make our lives a bit closer to that heavenly ideal. So, in the spirit of the Yom Kippur sermon given by Rabbi Yosef Kleiner in the Jerusalem Masorti congregation Moreshet Avraham, which stressed that small changes in behavior could result in large ripples, here are some wishful-thinking new year’s proposals.
Right-wing ideologues: Stop equating President Barack Obama with the anti-Semitic devil incarnate. Disagree with the Iran agreement as much as you want on its own merit, but stop spreading distortion and unfounded claims about his alliance with Islam and his throwing Israel under the bus.
Left-wing ideologues: Stop demonizing settlers. Aside from a small minority of extremists, they aren’t that different from you, aside from where their homes are. Protest against settlements all you want, but remember the settlers are as Israeli as you are.
TV executives: Cut down on the reality shows and music competitions already.  They’re numbing our brains.
Haredim and Arabs: Join the army or do national service. Enough of this ridiculous self-classification as second-class citizens. If you expect to receive equal rights, then pay the price like the rest of us.
Secular Israel:
Stop using the term dossim to describe haredim. Work to help them integrate into society instead of ostracizing them and forcing them to always be on the defensive.
Chief Rabbinate: Stop clinging to your undeserved stranglehold on almost all aspects of life-cycle activity. Recognize Conservative and Reform rabbis and let people decide what kind of Judaism they want.
Israeli media: Stop trying to be first with every story. Instead, strive to be the best and most accurate. It will raise the levels of all of us.
Israel Postal Company:
Just give up and go home.
Republican candidates for US president: Stop falling over each other to be the most pro-Israel. Note to Ann Coulter – that number of Jews you asked about tends to spike on Friday nights.
Israel police brass: Admit that there’s a problem and that you squelched Gal Hirsch’s appointment because he might have fixed it.
Israel’s minorities: Stay strong, vigilant and hopeful against your continued marginalization by the country’s “WASPs.”
Prime Minister Netanyahu: Present us with a plan of how to move forward that has a hint for a peaceful future. Easing shoot-to-kill orders may be a quick fix, but how about a peace initiative? PA President Abbas: Stop lying about Israeli incitement on the Temple Mount. Step out of the way and let a Palestinian leader move up who is courageous enough to make the daring moves that will give both Palestinians and Israelis hope.
The Israeli and Palestinian people: Realize that there won’t be any long-term quiet until the issue of settlements and a Palestinian state is resolved in a manner that both peoples can live with – and not die for.
Note to myself: Stop being so judgmental.