Consideration and Discussion

These calls mirror for the Jewish people what the fourth call takes up as a challenge and an opportunity for Christians, so that we have already engaged some of these concerns earlier.

Here we add a number of further sources for consideration and discussion among Jews and between Jews and Christians who are engaged in the work of dialogue with one another. This work is a struggle for a better understanding each of the other and, through that, also each of herself/himself.

The difficulty of the vital tasks we face is a key theme both in the religious experience and the teaching of Søren Kierkegaard and of Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik; in the projects of Martin Buber and of Emmanuel Levinas.

The individual must be able to belong to his or her group with (both) passionately active and passionately combative love…. S/he must refuse to let the group prevent her/him from standing up for what is right…. S/he must have the courage to … fight in behalf of the just demand of her/his group [as well as] to fight against the false interpretations and applications of that demand.

Martin Buber

Try this for yourself as well as in a group

Break up – cut up this 65 word passage by Professor Buber into separate words and place them in an envelope. Repeat this so that you have as many sets of the passage – so that you have as many envelopes with the 65 words of the passage as the number of participants in your group.

But before beginning. Put the word 'Loyalty' on a separate empty page; have enough copies for all your participants. Or have the word 'Loyalty' written out in large letters either on a black/whiteboard or on a large piece of paper at the front of your meeting room. Ask people to devote a few minutes to thinking about what this word evokes, suggests for each person individually. Participants should be encouraged to jot down their ideas – just for themselves. After just a few minutes trying this, invite participants to share their first thoughts with one another in small groups of three or four. After just five or ten minutes of sharing in that way, give out the envelopes. And again, first ask individuals to try putting the pieces of the word puzzle together as it seems to work for each person – to begin puzzling the words together; and then after trying that for some six minutes, ask for just two or three reactions, responses, thoughts from people of how trying that was for them – and then return to the small groups of three or four – either the same or different ones – in which participants will work together on composing one of the sets of 65 words into a comprehensible passage – as best they can!

Another way to do this is by making a large size set of these words and then that one large set placed in a large size envelope is given to a group of three or four or even of five or six participants – to work on putting them together into phrases and sentences.

Then discuss what people came up with. What the exercise suggests. What ideas, possible perspectives it suggests.

And then pass out the passage as written by Professor Buber and see what that suggests in a reading and conversation now in your one whole group – after having explored its elements in via the words as puzzle, as make your own poem out of them – that preceded your close reading of the text as written!

As part of your discussion, consider what questions, what problems and challenges arise in trying to understand this text – and apply it in real life!

For instance, won't there be competing ideas about what the just demand of the group – what the group's true ideals demand – just as there will be the corollary – there will be competing ideas about what are false interpretations and applications of these demands? How does one distinguish between the just and the unjust, the true and the false, the more just and the less unjust, that which is more true and that which is less true? Are there criteria for determining these? If so, what are they are? Who determines them? What to do when there are within a group – let alone between different groups – competing ideas, perspectives, experiences, 'positions'?

Being loyal not only to what my group in any given situation says and does, but rather loyalty to my group involving loyalty to what I understand to be the ideals of my group! Hmm… ! Complicated! Not at all simple!

And consider:

Tony Judt, 'Talking about Israel Without Clichés'

Also think about this:
Michael Chabon, 'Chosen, but Not Special' at

Michael Walzer, Interpretation and Social Criticism (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1987). Especially chapter 3 on 'The Prophet as Social Critic'
Seven out of the 26 pages of this chapter are available at

And here's an essay by Professor Walzer on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict:

And see Professor Walzer's study on The Company of Critics: Social Criticism & Political Commitment in the Twentieth Century (New York: Basic Books, New York), especially chapter 4 on 'Martin Buber's Search for Zion'.

On Christians living in Israel

A survey of Israeli-Jewish attitudes towards Christianity and the Christian presence in Israel is available at

concerning a most troubling act of contempt by some Jews in Jerusalem toward Christian fellow residents of the city ~ see this article in the Israeli newspaper Ha'Aretz:

While here in another article in Ha'Aretz news of how other Jews in Jerusalem are mobilizing in defense of their Christian fellow residents of their shared holy city (of their, of our potentially holy city; depending on the actions, the behaviors its residents choose to live out in their daily lives) – also with those not of their immediate faith community. Of course, we say 'immediate' faith community because we all likewise belong to the covenantal community represented by the rainbow after The Flood – namely, the all-of-us fellow human and all-of-us fellow creature covenantal community.

And also in Ha'Aretz see this 'story' about a special human being who serves Israel's Hebrew-speaking Catholics as well as acts as a bridge toward better understanding and living between Christians, Moslems and Jews in Israel/Palestine:

On the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

See our guide to the fourth of The Twelve Points - The Twelve Challenges of Berlin - the one that calls us 'To pray for the peace of Jerusalem' and to live in our everyday lives the kind of Jerusalem our prayers imagine.
& see
Alistair Macdonald, 'Witness – Writing on The Walls in The Holy Land'

as well as
Yaron Ezrahi, Rubber Bullets: Power and Conscience in Modern Israel (University of California Press, 1997)
Meron Benvenisti, Conflicts and Contradictions (New York: Villard Books, 1986)
Amos Oz, Israel, Palestine and Peace: Essays (New York: Harcourt Brace & Company, 1994)

One Thing has been given you: the Longing for a better world that isn't, but could be someday; a life of truth and justice.

It is forbidden to leave the world as it is.

~ Jewish-Polish educator Janusz Korczak ~