Wrestling in the Daylight
A Rabbi’s Path to Palestinian Solidarity
by Brant Rosen
If you want to understand the inner struggle of American Jews about Israel, this is a must read.Rabbi Michael Lerner, editor of Tikkun Magazine
Wrestling in the Daylight
In 2006, Rabbi Brant Rosen, who served a Jewish Reconstructionist congregation in Evanston, Illinois, launched a blog called Shalom Rav, in which he explored a broad range of social-justice issues. The focus of his writing—and his activism—changed dramatically in December 2008, when Israel launched a wide, 23-day military attack against Gaza, causing him to deeply question his lifelong liberal Zionism. Unlike the biblical Jacob, who wrestled in the dark of night at a crucial turning point in his life, Rabbi Rosen chose to make his struggle public: to wrestle in the daylight. Over the two years that followed, Shalom Rav became a public and always highly readable record of his journey from liberal Zionist to active and visionary Palestinian solidarity activist. Wrestling in the Daylight: A Rabbi’s Path to Palestinian Solidarity is Rosen’s self-curated compilation of these blog posts.
Thanks be to God that Rabbi Rosen decided to join the hardest wrestle of our day, the one with our Jewish and our Palestinian ‘Others’.Rabbi Arthur Waskow, director, The Shalom Center
But Rabbi Rosen has not struggled alone. As he began to question some of his own most long-held beliefs, many of his congregants and other readers, Jewish and non-Jewish, were drawn to the depth of his questioning and came along for the journey. Others disagreed passionately with his lines of argument, but stayed to read, debate, and participate. Wrestling in the Daylight includes many of the discussions that took place on his blog’s comment boards. It thus provides readers with a privileged window not only into the grace-filled, compassionate, and sometimes anguished reasoning of one rabbi, but also into the whole, complex web of discussions that have arisen within and beyond the American Jewish community over the ever-thorny Palestine/Israel question. Readers of Wrestling in the Daylight will find themselves drawn deep inside debates over such issues as:
- Do the values of Jewish ethnic nationalism conflict with American values?
- Was the founding of Israel based on an injustice – one that continues to this day?
- Does Israel’s treatment of Palestinians constitute apartheid?
- Do we need an alternative to Jewish tribalism?
- Is Zionism pushing young American Jews away from Judaism?
- Is the growing campaign for ‘BDS’ (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions) anti-Semitic?
In his Preface, Rabbi Rosen writes, “I’ve come to believe that too many of us have been wrestling in the dark on this issue for far too long. I believe we simply must find a way to widen the limits of public discourse on Israel/Palestine, no matter how painful the prospect. It is my fervent hope that the conversations presented here might represent, in their small way, a step toward the light of day.”
Both the content of the main blog posts in Wrestling in the Daylight and the generosity with which Rosen includes—and seriously engages with—the views of his harshest critics show us an admirable spiritual leader at work. In many different ways, this book can serve as a valuable resource for all those within or beyond the Jewish community, who yearn to hold open and honest discussions on Israel and Palestine.
–Diana Buttu, legal scholar and former advisor to the PLO negotiators
–Laila El-Haddad, Author of Gaza Unsilenced and Gaza Mom: Palestine, Politics, Parenting and Everything in Between
–Jeremiah Haber, blogger, The Magnes Zionist
–Michael Lerner, editor of Tikkun Magazine, chair of the Network of Spiritual Progressives, author of 11 books including Jewish Renewal: A Path to Healing and Transformation and Embracing Israel/Palestine: A Strategy for Middle East Peace
–Yonatan Shapira, Israeli human rights activist
–Rabbi Arthur Waskow, director, The Shalom Center, co-author with R. Phyllis Berman of Freedom Journeys: The Tale of Exodus & Wilderness Across Millennia
Wrestling in the Daylight is available in Paperback ($20.99)