Submitted by: Jerusalem4ALL Category: Ensuring the Jewish Future
The Big Idea
Jerusalem4ALL is a collaborative, communities based international education, training, and research organization dedicated to promoting peace, security, freedom, and planetary well-being. The topography of Jerusalem inspired an ancient understanding of the holy city as the navel of the earth. We now envision an open Jerusalem as the capital city of the planet.
Jerusalem4All is dedicated to innovative, forward looking approaches to the future of the Jewish people in the current millennium. Peoples across the planet live in communities whether rural villages or villages within urban megalopolis centers such as Los Angeles, Paris or New York. In our era more women and men of different faith traditions and cultures are located in these urban villages. Los Angeles is an ideal community to incubate Jerusalem4All because the basin that holds the city birthed the nexus of the women's art, spirituality, and environmental movements of contemporary times.
The many cultural and religious traditions that have sustained the Jewish people across time are today located in Los Angeles. The vision of Jerusalem4All is endebted to the scholar and peacemaker Rabbi Menachem Fruman of Tekoa who first rooted the idea of Jerusalem as the extra-territorial capital of the planet within scriptural sources. Today musicians inspired by the beats of Reggae and peacemaker and environmental activists who work with Israelis and internationals also articulate a notion of the holy city as the capital of the planet.
The hope is that peace here will have a domino effect on bringing in peace to the entire planet. The holy city is already host to spiritual seekers, artists, and teachers from ancient and more new age traditions, and an array of non-governmental organizations, and UN organizations. Jerusalem4ALL builds on what is already happening in the city. Spiritual pilgrimages to the city have a long tradition. Jerusalem4All will distinguish itself by cultivating green pilgrimages where visitors learn of the holy places of more than one tradition and participate in contemporary projects that focus on non-violence and making the city livable and sustainable for the diverse communities who inhabit this navel crossroads of the planet.
The goals of Jerusalem4ALL are to make the best use of contemporary technologies to facilitate listening and learning within and across different communities in Los Angeles and between Los Angeles and residents of Jerusalem. The project was initially conceived as a blogging site where blogging and discussion forums would enable this fresh path to peace to be debated and elaborated. The portals of the virtual world are critical in our planetary moment and especially so in Los Angeles. The vast horizons of the landscape create unique opportunities for expression at the same time that the transportation systems of the city create barriers to face to face communication.
The salons and hands on art and restoration projects will work in tandem with virtual technologies to compensate for the impediments to human face to face communication. Dr. Gloria Orenstein a professor of Comparative Literature at the University of Southern California who created the feminist art salon in NYC and nourishes salons in LA since relocating there in 1982 has extensive contacts within the art world in the city. Dr. Evlyn Gould of the University of Oregon was born in the city, performed as a dancer before becoming a French literature scholar and is now studying with the world renowned Continuum Movement teacher , Emily Conrad, who says only LA could have given birth to Continuum. Evlyn, currently a UNESCO fellow in scriptural reasoning, teaches Jewish movement meditation, and works in the inter-faith community in Eugene, Oregon.
Dr. Irene Diamond ,the founding director of Jerusalem4ALL, based in Brooklyn NY and Jerusalem, co-created with Gloria Orenstein the California Humanities conference in 1987, Ecofeminist Perspectives, Culture, Nature, Theory which together with the 1990 Sierra Club volume Reweaving the World put ecofeminism on the global map. Their unique backgrounds will enable bridge building between religious and cultural communities in LA that can in turn foster these vital openings in New York and Jerusalem where the weight of history often produces attachment to anxieties and fears The goal here is to create openness to the possibilities of the future for Jews through learning textual sources across spiritual traditions and attending to the sounds of the more-than human world via vocalization, movement meditation and hands on restoration projects.
Since 9/11 interfaith learning among the Abrahamic traditions has become commonplace. Jerusalem4All, building on the rainbow gatherings place across the planet, new age music festivals in the land of Israel, and the meetings of Hindus and Jews in Jerusalem and New Delhi, initially encouraged by the Dalai Lama, will broaden the meaning of interfaith within Jewish LA. The approach to environmental learning in the salons and the more bodily oriented activities will strengthen the Jewish environmental community. Too much contemporary environmentalist discourse is binary: anthropocentric or anti-human, progress or apocalypse. Jerusalem4ALL offers fresh approaches that move beyond existing paradigms of scarcity based flat ecology which derive from scientistic, phallocratic, materialism. Reconnection with the range of human sensory experience will forge links between political activists and the art and science worlds of Jewish LA.
This Is A Great Idea Because
he innovation of Jerusalem4All is its future oriented approach to the divides that plague Jews wherever they reside. The project is designed to transform many of the tensions between Jews living in the diaspora and the land of Israel that have caused intense conflicts since the birth of Zionism in all its religious and secular varieties. Today these conflicts permeate the entire planet, causing anxiety about the future of Jews as a people. I am a political scientist by academic training, having received my Ph.D. from Princeton University when women were a rarity in the graduate school and pregnant women unheard of. I recently returned to the USA from almost five years in Israel.
My journeys in Raanana, Tsfat and Jerusalem convinced me that nation state politics is often not the most promising avenue for resolving conflict. We must of course pay attention to matters of governing, hence the communities based approach of this project. Whether humans identify as members of a tribe, nation, culture, ethnic group, religion or today as citizens of the world, humans across time have resided in communities whatever empires may have governed their geographical locations. Now we face the paradox of religion as force for peace and religious fundamentalism as the cause of the most virulent forms of hatred and violence. This project trusts that this apparent paradox can be transformed for the good of human and non-human nature, if we tend to the flowering of the arts which permits internal healing and self-governance.
My long involvement in the Green and environmental movement, which began during the years I lived in LA in the mid-eighties, joined with my more recent learning in Israel suggest a fresh approach to our contemporary religious divides and the very ways humans approach and define environmental problems. My new thinking is reflected in my forthcoming book Umbilical Chords: Feminism Rising in the Fifth Millennium and my involvement in organizing the symposium to be held this April 27 at Columbia University entitled. Eros and Cosmocracy: Birthing Holistic Ecology.
The relationships I established during my years in Israel assure me that I can draw on the best innovative projects and currents in Israel to facilitate the success of Jerusalem4All in Los Angeles. One of my closest friends and colleagues in Israel is the young Rabbi, Shaul Judelman,, who grew up in Seattle, is himself a student of Rabbi Fruman, and is on the cutting edge of the environmental and music scene in Israel. Shaul runs the Eco-Beit midrash in Jerusalem which combines text study with hands on learning. He is a member of Aharit Haymim, one of the most popular festival bands in Israel that recently played in Los Angeles. My approaches to women's empowerment and planetary healing has much in common with the artist Shoshana Gugenheim, now the founding director of the international project Women of the Book. Jerusalem4All can move us beyond the unproductive Zionist/ anti-zionist, settler/non-settler, religious'/anti-religious, science/anti-science, politics/anti-politics oppositions that wreck havoc, fear and hatred