Judaism has been diasporic, temple-less and landless, for almost 2000 years. We have flourished and spread, been attacked and survived, built homes and made homelands, participated in global atrocities as aggressor and as victim. We are nomadically alive, full guests and participants in others’ homes and countries, sometimes enough to make them our own.
One of my ancestral homes is Ioannina, more recently than anywhere in the levant and possibly for more generations. I don’t speak the language there, either, and the jewish community has faded enough to nearly die—but the connection many jews feel to jerusalem, that I felt once to Israel, that is the connection I feel when I walked through the old market and the roman fort’s walls, when my father pointed out the house my yiayia was born in, when i looked over the mountain and ate fish from the lake. Diaspora homes are our homes. Diaspora communities are our communities.
Other peoples live in the holy land, now. If we want to live in peace, Israel must loosen their grip on being first and foremost a Jewish homeland. Israel must step back from violence.
Israel—jerusalem, in particular, but not exclusively—holds deep history for jews and for other people. Deep, complicated history. It’s skipped around and whitewashed in different directions, impossible to detangle one solid historical truth for multiple narratives of owning and belonging, colonizers giving their unjustly seized land as a gift to survivors of a genocide so that we can regroup and move forwards—to act as badly, or worse, as the original colonizers did. This is not necessary, nor is it justice.
Now, there is a mosque on the temple mount. I was raised to see this as an insult, another religion’s stealing of our holy site, leaving us to pray at the one remaining wall. (neatly segmented into a large men’s section and a small women’s section, requiring respectable dress and behavior to the frummest common denominator, locking out participation from nonbinary jews or those who prefer to not pray in gender-segregated environments, greatly restricting behaviors available to those in the women’s section in the first place.) Those Others pray their Wrong Bad prayers atop it, where Our temple once was. In the days of the Second Temple, when it was destroyed, Someone built a BadWrongPagan place of worship on there to spite us, and look—still, someone else has a BadWrong Place Of Worship there. This is, at best, incorrect. To begin: they pray in a different language, with different customs, but to our same G-d. They built a mosque there as the place is holy for them as well—they did not build a place of worship to spite us or to keep us out.
We are supposed to want and move towards a rebuilding of the temple so that the moshiach will come. Why? Two holy buildings trying to occupy the same space is moshiach's problem to handle once they get here.
Until then, I want to look at where we have come from and understand and appreciate it. I want to pray for peace and the arrival of the moshiach, but I want my steps towards that to be in the form of tikkun olam and introspection, improving myself and helping others, tweaking structures so fewer are harmed, building community and in the process repairing the world.