Because of the pandemic, the popular brown bag lunch series at the Jewish Congregation of Venice is continuing via Zoom.
Coordinated by adult education chairpersons Yehuda and Pnina Salu, the July 22 program featured JCV Rabbi Ben Shull speaking about Zionism.
The definition of Zionism has changed over the years as the State of Israel became a reality. Its first meaning was a return to the Jewish homeland, but currently relates to a belief in Jewish self determination and Israel’s right to govern its own affairs, including its relationship to the diaspora.
Rabbi Shull interspersed his own experiences with congregants speaking about their impressions and feelings about Israel.
As the first member of his family to go to Israel, Rabbi Shull spoke about his teenage and adult experiences, including arriving there on the eve of the first Iraqi war in December 1990, as part of a group of rabbis.
Their mission was to greet Russian Jews on their arrival who were a part of more than 1 million Jews who emigrated in the decade between 1980-1990. Scud missiles were raining in several areas while the rabbis gave Chanukah candles to the arriving children.
He also served as a chaperone in the ongoing “March of the Living” program which brought foreign teenagers to Israel as well as some of the Polish concentration camps.
Rabbi Shull last visited Israel in 2011 as part of a community mission and was deeply moved by a deaf/blind dance ensemble, the only one of its kind, where there were participants from all over the world.
The Rabbi left his audience with the sobering reminder that Israel is the only country whose very legitimacy is questioned.