On Israel and Palestine

When we launched the project called Mishkan Chicago back in 2011, we wanted to empower people across the spectrum of identity, background, age, and belief to reclaim Judaism’s inspiration and transformative essence. Now more than a decade later, we continue to live our mission through Jewish prayer, community building, holiday celebrations, and learning in all of the spaces that we create – including around the topic of Israel and Palestine.

Our approach in our programming recognizes the right of the Jewish people to have a national homeland, which is the fulfillment of a four thousand years-long relationship of love, longing, and living, in the Land of Israel. Mishkan Chicago will always support the people of Israel as they live out the dream of being “a free people in our land– am hofshi b’artzenu,” and work toward fulfillment of its founding ideals described in its Declaration of Independence: to “ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; to safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and to be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.” 

Moreover, Israel is home to half the world’s Jewish people, including our own family, friends, and colleagues. We strive to lift up and celebrate so many aspects of modern Israel, including its important role as a refuge for Jewish people and cultures from all over the world, a home for the revival of the Hebrew language and new expressions of Jewish religion and spirituality, a home for the flourishing of many religions and ethnicities, as well as a center for culture, arts and science.

Our approach also recognizes that the creation of Israel, while a miracle for the Jewish people, was a nakba or a catastrophe for the Palestinian people, the effects of which are still reverberating today. We recognize the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, to be free from occupation, to live peacefully with full civil rights and freedoms, in both Israel and the Palestinian territories. In our communications, we often refer to both Israel and Palestine, out of respect for the language each people indigenous to the land uses to describe their national homeland. 

Guided by the vision of the prophet Isaiah, “Nation will not lift up sword against nation, and neither shall they learn war anymore,” Mishkan lifts up and partners with the organizations and people working every day on the ground toward mutual recognition, dignity and respect for both Israelis and Palestinians, laying the foundation for a secure and peaceful future for all who call Israel and Palestine home. In the large and diverse ecosystem of political, economic, humanitarian, cultural and other organizations doing important work in this space, we see our role as amplifying the voices of the people who work each day for peace.

Courageous Conversations in Community

Both for our staff and our community at Mishkan, we work to transcend the toxic binary narrative that so often accompanies this conflict. It is our goal to promote the programs, partners, and relationships that help us to stop talking past each other and build bridges, first and foremost among the members of our own community. There is no place for antisemitism or Islamophobia or hate speech at Mishkan, and we are committed to creating spaces where grace, curiosity, generosity of spirit, and respect guide conversations about Israel and Palestine. We believe that hearing and honoring diverse viewpoints makes our community stronger, more resilient, and helps all of us be more prepared to navigate these conversations out in the world. Our core values support us in engaging in courageous conversations.

Examples where Mishkan community members have engaged spiritually and educationally, always in dialogue with what’s happening in the world:
  • Prayer spaces 
  • Learning spaces
  • Processing spaces
  • Trips to Israel and the West Bank
  • Partnerships with grassroots organizations
  • Partnerships with local organizations
  • Concierge suggestions of how folks can take their own values and do activism beyond what is Mishkan’s purview

יְה עֹז, לְעַמּוֹ יִתֵּן; יְה יְבָרֵךְ אֶת-עַמּוֹ בַשָּׁלוֹם
Adonai oz le’amo yiten, adonai yevarekh et-amo va’shalom
May the Source bless us with strength, may the Source bless us with peace.

2023 Israel-Hamas War: Organizations Requesting Donations and Support:

We recognize the ongoing pain, grief, and rage many of us hold right now, in light of the latest violence in Israel and Gaza. Rabbi Lizzi called on us to pace ourselves – not to do everything, but to do one life affirming thing, and then another, during this difficult time. Here are a few organizations who are requesting emergency donations:

Bring the Hostages Home
New Israel Fund
Standing Together
JUF Emergency Fund
American Friends of the Parents Circle Families Forum
World Central Kitchen
World Food Program USA
United Hatzalah
Wrapping Memory
Our friends at Lab/Shul also have a great list: https://www.labshul.org/israel-update/

Mishkan is proud to support the peacemakers on the ground:

For a full list of organizations doing people to people peace building work, see the member list at ALLMEP, the Alliance for Middle East Peace, the umbrella organization of organizations building mutual respect, understanding and cooperation in the region. Statements by ALLMEP or its member organizations do not necessarily reflect the views of Mishkan Chicago.