It has been almost three years since I began this weekly diary (this is entry #152). My assignment from the beginning was to provide a look at life in Israel as far as possible from the headlines a personal perspective on everyday life. The idea was to help readers get a feel for the experiences and concerns and joys of a "man in the street" or in this case, an educator in the street. Obviously, there is no neutral, or typical observer, and my observations and reflections are filtered through who I am a Reform rabbi, an informal educator, an immigrant from North America, a Galilean.
For me, the experience of writing this diary has been both valuable and gratifying. It has forced me to look around me more thoughtfully; to look for the positive when I was feeling negative; to work at presenting my frustrations with and criticisms of Israel in such a way as to be meaningful to Diaspora readers, without "Israel bashing."
In looking back on the entries, it is clear that most of them can be seen as belonging to a series of "threads," themes to which I keep coming back:
Nature and the seasons in the Land of Israel
Arabs and Jews in Israel
Reflections on the meaning of Zionism
The Jewish holidays and Jewish culture
The impact of the headlines on everyday life
Educational experiences and dilemmas
Interesting personal encounters
Generally, because of the requirement of brevity, historical, textual, and sociological background has been presented telegraphically, as the backdrop for the personal reporting and reflection that take up most of each entry. Recently, I met with Rabbi Katzew to discuss the "Galilee Diary" and its impact, and it occurred to us that it might be useful, educationally, to try to make the diary a little more systematic and a little less idiosyncratic. In other words, we wondered if it would be possible to provide more information about Israel, more systematically, without sacrificing the personal, immediate nature of the entries. This wondering led us to the decision to try. My attempts may or may not be noticeable, but I intend to try to build into the above threads a larger body of background information, so that over time, a regular reader will be able to accumulate a body of knowledge about various aspects of Israeli life not just about my particular experiences and concerns. We hope to make the diary more effective as an educational tool, a vehicle for independent study about Israeli life, culture, and history.
This attempt may or may not work, and it certainly won't be fully consistent, as some experiences just beg to be reported in all their subjectivity. In any case, I would be very pleased to receive direct feedback from readers about any aspect of the diary, and especially to receive questions, and requests for the treatment of particular topics, concerns, and issues.