By Karen Vance
Decades of conflict and incidents of terrorism have made Israel one of the most talked about parts of the world. And just weeks before that nation's population heads to the polls to determine its political future, an Israeli scholar and educator will bring a unique perspective on those elections to Cincinnati.
Rabbi Ben Hollander, an American who has lived in Jerusalem for 30 years and teaches future Jewish clergy at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem's Rothberg School for overseas students, will present "The Election of Israel (Sinai) and Elections in Israel Next Week" at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 21.
"It's a complex situation because Israel is a people, a religion and a nation," said Rabbi Hollander, who is on a speaking tour in North America. "It requires a balance, and it is sometimes difficult to keep religion from undermining democracy."
The event, hosted at Adath Israel Congregation, Ridge and Galbraith roads in Amberley Village, is co-sponsored by Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion and the Isaac M. Wise Temple.
Jan. 28, Israeli voters will choose between Likud Party Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Labor Party challenger, Amran Mitzna.
"Sharon takes a harder line, more conservative and wants to emphasize the strength of Israel, while Mitzna wants to go directly back to the point of negotiations at Camp David with the intent of creating a Palestinian state," Rabbi Hollander said.
Rabbi Hollander stresses that he's not a political analyst and will instead concentrate on the Biblical roots of Jewish nationalism and the vision of modern Zionism.
He said the majority of Israelis are eager to find a resolution to living peacefully with the Palestinians, and that exploring a historical and Biblical perspective can provide a deeper perspective and help shed light on the current circumstances.
"Muslim Arabs and Jews are both descendants of Abraham, and both have lived in this area for centuries. There's a hope that because Jews were the subject of rule by another people, that we also do not want to rule another people," Rabbi Hollander said.
Rabbi Hollander, who was trained as a conservative rabbi and ordained by the Jewish Theological Seminary, teaches at reform and conservative movement Jewish institutions, including conservative Machon Schechter and the Hebrew Union College in Jerusalem, a reform school, and Camp Ramah in Conover, Wis., in the summers.
The talk is free and open to all. For more information, contact the Adath Israel office at 793-1800.
Elizabeth Struthers Malbon, professor of religious studies at Virginia Tech University, will lead a nonresidential retreat beginning Friday focusing on the Gospel according to Mark.
The retreat, held at the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, 2944 Erie Ave. in Hyde Park, will be from 7 to 9 p.m. Friday and 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Jan. 18. .
Ms. Malbon, who has published three books on the Gospels of Mark, also will be the guest preacher at the 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. services on Jan. 19.
The cost for the retreat is $35 and will include lunch. Call the church office at 321-6700 for more information or to register.
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