Danielle V. Minson — Raising the Bar
Cincinnati 2020 in 2015: Q&A with Rabbi Irvin Wise: Guest Post by Barbara Miller & Tedd Friedman
How do you explain Cincinnati 2020 to your congregation?
It’s our community’s effort to vision and plan, to the best of our ability, for the near future of our Jewish community. It is consistent with one of Adath Israel’s core values; namely, that we are part of something bigger than us: our community, Israel, and the Jewish people.
Inspired by Cincinnati 2020, the upcoming Congregation and Community Israel Mission will bring entire congregations together for a Cincinnati community trip to Israel next summer. What’s been the reaction from your congregation in regards to this trip?
My congregation has responded very positively. We have had two meetings with our final one scheduled for early January. I think we presently have close to 70 congregants going and I know of a number of others who are going but who have not yet signed up.
What are you most looking forward to about the Community Mission?
I am looking forward to getting myself and Kathy back to Israel. We haven’t been there since June, 2014. I always look forward to being with my congregants; the Israel experience always strengthens our relationship and they establish new relationships and friendships with other Adath Israel congregants. Also, I look forward to experiencing as I always do my congregants experiencing Israel; not only, but especially the kids and first-timers. Being there with hundreds of our community and many of my colleagues for significant parts of the mission is certainly exciting to think about.
In planning the Community Mission, did anything surprise you?
Not really. I am just concerned how we are going to get 300 to 400 Jews in and out of the bathrooms in a timely fashion.
Given the itinerary you have planned, what do you hope people take away from the trip?
As always, I hope they keep in their hearts and minds the beauty of Israel: the flora and fauna, the sunsets on the Mediterranean and the light off the Jerusalem stone in that extraordinarily special city. I hope they see and remember how diverse the citizenry of Israel is: every race, ethnic background, languages, food, and culture and more and I hope they experience the warmth and friendliness of Israelis. I want them to appreciate the quality of the Israel-grown and -produced wine, cheese, olive oil, produce, and more and I want them to remember the sights, smells, and sounds of Machane Yehudah and learn that even the worst falafel and hummus is better than anywhere outside of Israel. Obviously, I want them to deeply and transformatively experience the history and spiritual pulse and thrust of Israel as well as come back with a genuine appreciation for the challenges and issues that Israel must deal with every day.
Why should Cincinnati 2020 and the Community Mission be important to Jewish Cincinnati?
Why? Because if a community-congregational mission to Israel is not important, what will be important?
How will the Community Mission change Jewish Cincinnati?
I do not know. I know what I hope for: a stronger, deeper, and more sophisticated understanding of Israel today, and an appreciation for the importance of an American Jewish community such as ours being able to have respectful and profound discussions about Israel where different views, concerns, ideas, and issues can be safely discussed and shared.
In your mind, what does the undertaking (planning, funding) of the Community Mission demonstrate about the level of collaboration happening as part of the Cincinnati 2020 initiative?I have been a part of numerous collaborations in our community and cooperative efforts. We are blessed with our Jewish Foundation and Jewish Federation and also with how well the congregational rabbis work together; that has made all this possible. We should never take this for granted.