Bringing Reform Judaism to the Regions of Israel

Sunday, Feb. 28

Written by Rabbi Joel Nickerson

After the intense visits to Sderot and Moshav Netiv Ha’asarah, we headed to Kibbutz Dorot to meet up with Rabbi Yael Karrie, a Reform rabbi (still in rabbinical school) who is the Regional Reform Rabbi for the Sh’ar HaNegev region, which includes Sderot and about 10 kibbutzim (she also used to be a tour guide for Birthright trips and so I met her some years ago when she was guiding a group that was on the same schedule as my Birthright group).  She also does work with Moshav Netiv Ha’asarah, but they’re technically outside her region.  Unlike Rabbi Stacey Blank, with whom we spent Shabbat at Tzur Hadassah, Rabbi Karrie works with multiple communities and since many of them are kibbutzim, it’s the equivalent of working with unaffiliated Jews in the U.S.  She spends her days traveling from one kibbutz to the other to teach on a variety of subjects, working on a project that creates dialogue between Israeli and Arab women in the local Arab town of Rahat, and building awareness of the ‘other’ by helping kibbutz members embrace LGBT issues, meet with Ethiopian immigrants, and understand the challenges of foreign workers.  She also started a project called Nislach, which is worth checking out (you may need to use Facebook translator to get a sense).  Her boss is Gilad Kariv, the executive director of the Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism.

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In addition to speaking to us about her fascinating work and her own journey to the rabbinate (which is a great story that you should hear from her yourself!), she offered her own views on the challenges facing Israelis today.  While she recognizes the energy that the Reform movement in Israel has placed on developing an egalitarian section at the Western Wall, she believes that the most troubling issue facing Israelis today is that of racism.  She believes that the country has a serious issue on its hands and that if it doesn’t start dealing with it, it may cause serious damage.  There are too many examples of Israelis not understanding the ‘other’ and this is why she spends so much of her time building connections between communities and ethnic/religious groups.  Rabbi Karrie is definitely a star so keep your eyes open for her as she continues to develop her rabbinate (and her many ideas).

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The sun sets over Kibbutz Dorot.

We ended our day by enjoying dinner at a hummus place in Sderot.  I found this little piece of art in the bathroom.  In Hebrew it reads, “the bathroom.”  A little humor at the end a full and intense day.

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