Rabbi Barry H. Block
Rabbi Barry H. Block
Rabbi Barry H. Block serves the Congregation B’nai Israel in Little Rock, Arkansas and has served as Board member of the Central Conference of American Rabbis. He is also editor of The Mussar Torah Commentary: A Spiritual Path to Living a Meaningful and Ethical Life and The Social Justice Torah Commentary. In one op-ed, he shared how his Jewish ancestors owning slaves propelled him to become a rabbi for social justice.

In a public letter shared through T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights, Rabbi Block described witnessing with his own eyes the way “Israeli occupation of the West Bank was unjust, poses daily indignities to Palestinians, and is as much a detriment to Israel’s security as it is to its soul.”

From an e-newsletter:

Dear Steven,

Before traveling to the South Hebron Hills with T’ruah, I knew intellectually that the Israeli occupation of the West Bank was unjust, poses daily indignities to Palestinians, and is as much a detriment to Israel’s security as it is to its soul. However, seeing with my own eyes the attempt to drive Palestinians out of Masafer Yatta, the rural area surrounding the West Bank Palestinian city of Yatta, brought the harsh reality home to my kishkes (my insides).

Among a diverse group of rabbis and their families, my 22-year-old son Robert and I met Hamdan, an exemplar of resilience in the face of often insurmountable challenges. A man with a college education who has forgone opportunities for what most people would call a “better life” outside Palestine, Hamdan nevertheless continues to rebuild his home and reestablish access to the fields and water that belong to his family and community.

When Jewish Israelis build illegal settlements — that is, illegal under Israel’s own laws — the IDF establishes wide security zones around them, blocking Palestinians’ access to their own lands. By contrast, when Palestinians rebuild their ancestral homes without a permit, the IDF often demolishes them.

Even if we accepted arguments that the occupation of the West Bank cannot safely be ended now, under no circumstance should we tolerate settlers’ illegal outposts or cruelty and collective punishment of Palestinians living on their ancestral land. I am grateful to be a T’ruah rabbi, led by the indefatigable Rabbi Jill Jacobs, in the ongoing effort to shine a light on the tikkun Israel must undertake to vouchsafe its future and save its soul.

Steven, what I witnessed in the South Hebron Hills with T’ruah will enhance my advocacy to end the West Bank occupation. Can you help ensure the sustainability of future such delegations with a gift to T’ruah today? Thank you so much for your consideration.

In solidarity,

Rabbi Barry H. Block
he/him/his
Congregation B’nai Israel, Little Rock, AR

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