WASHINGTON (JTA) — Under President Barack Obama, Jack Lew gained praise for fulfilling both his duties as secretary of the treasury and his obligations as an Orthodox Jew.
Now, President Joe Biden is asking Lew to complete a challenge that could be even harder: helping establish diplomatic ties between Israel and Saudi Arabia as the next U.S. ambassador to Israel.
Lew, 68, will succeed Tom Nides, who left the post in July, the White House announced Monday morning.
Lew declined a Jewish Telegraphic Agency request for comment last week, as his name solidified among a pack of people in contention.
Lew’s appointment must be confirmed by the Senate, which is led by a Democratic majority. He would be the fourth Jewish man in a row to serve in the role, following Nides, David Friedman and Dan Shapiro.
Lew, who also served as Obama’s chief of staff before leading the Treasury Department, has drawn words of support from Jewish leaders in Washington who pointed to his experience in public office, his skills as a negotiator, his involvement in Jewish life and his close relationship with Jewish organizations.
“He’s a very thoughtful person, and has always been open and accessible,” said Nathan Diament, the Washington director of the Orthodox Union. “He has an encyclopedic knowledge of policy issues, starting with budgetary policy issues.”
As Lew’s anticipated nomination neared, he also drew criticism from right-wing activists. Morton Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America, wrote in a Jerusalem Post op-ed that Lew’s appointment would be “deeply concerning” because of his involvement in what Klein calls “the Obama administration’s hostility to the Jewish state and the Jewish people.”
If he is confirmed, Lew will take up the post at a time of instability in Israel, which is contending with mass protests of the right-wing government’s actions to weaken the Supreme Court, in addition to a surge in Israeli-Palestinian violence.
Alongside those issues, the Biden administration is pursuing an agreement between Israel and Saudi Arabia that, if reached, would mark a major foreign policy breakthrough in the region. U.S.-brokered negotiations over a potential accord are reportedly underway.
Here’s what you need to know about Lew, his career so far and the challenges he could face in the ambassador role.
He’s a negotiator who could bring his skills to diplomacy.
Lew earned a reputation for resolving complex negotiations during his two stints as director of the Office of Management and Budget, under Obama as well as President Bill Clinton. The OMB director oversees funding for the vast federal bureaucracy and negotiates budgets with Congress.
As OMB director in the last two years of Clinton’s presidency, Lew negotiated a balanced budget with the same Republican leadership that was seeking Clinton’s ouster for the Monica Lewinsky scandal. The talks succeeded: Clinton left office with a budget surplus.
As ambassador to Israel, Lew could use that experience in making a Saudi-Israel deal happen. The treaty would follow the agreements Israel signed in 2020 with several Arab countries, known as the Abraham Accords — but it would also be more complex.
As described by Biden in July to New York Times columnist Tom Friedman, the deal would involve stemming Saudi Arabia’s growing trade ties with China; a pledge that the United States will guarantee Saudi Arabia’s security; and the establishment of a Saudi civilian nuclear program along with the sale of advanced weapons systems. The status of Palestinians is also shaping up to take increased prominence in the negotiations.
That’s a lot of moving parts, and the ambassador to Israel would be key to reassuring the United States’ closest ally in the region that a deal would not endanger Israel.
“He really knows the issues inside and out,” Diament said. “You’re not going to pull the wool over his eyes, which is generally a good thing. But it also means you can come in and make the right kinds of arguments based on the facts and based on the situation, hopefully, you have a chance at having him on your side.”
Lew is also devoted to his bosses and knows when to stand firm. As OMB director under Obama, before he became the president’s chief of staff, he stood firm on protecting entitlement programs — Obama’s top priority — during talks with Republicans in 2011. Lew was furious with Republicans for what he believed was their lack of respect for the president, and in turn, earned the scorn of Republicans who called him the man who “can’t get to yes.”
Biden, who grew close to Lew during Obama’s second term — when Biden was vice president and Lew was Treasury secretary — could expect the same loyalty.
He’s used to defending controversial stances to the Jewish community.
As Treasury secretary, Lew was tapped as Obama’s point man to explain — and defend — the Iran nuclear deal in the Jewish community. The deal, which curbed Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief, was bitterly opposed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. A range of large Jewish organizations, along with Republicans in Congress, advocated against it.
Lew had been involved in the issue for years. He oversaw the enforcement of sanctions that helped bring Iran to the negotiating table and used his knowledge of the deal’s particulars — as well as his intimate knowledge of the Jewish community — to pitch the deal to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, and others who were deeply skeptical.
He was booed that year at the annual Jerusalem Post conference in New York when he defended the deal. A year after leaving office, and a year before President Donald Trump scuppered the deal, Lew was still defending it to a Jewish audience.
“The idea that somehow the Iran deal was not in Israel’s interest is something I disagree with,” Lew said in 2017 at a conference at Columbia University’s Institute for Israel and Jewish Studies. “I think Israel is safer today than it was before the deal when Iran was genuinely approaching having a nuclear weapon.”
His continued defense of the agreement especially irks Klein’s ZOA, which accuses him of “shilling” for the deal. Lew “stuck to and trotted out every Obama administration line (and lie) to try to sell the Iran deal to the American-Jewish public,” Klein wrote in his op-ed.
William Daroff, the CEO of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, said Lew’s helpfulness to the Jewish community straddled multiple disciplines and that he “was always very attentive to the Jewish communal agenda.” He praised Lew for stanching funding to terrorists as treasury secretary, as well as for his efforts to aid Holocaust survivors or combat efforts to amend tax laws on charitable contributions.
Lew did not always see eye to eye with his Obama administration colleagues on Israel-related matters. In the administration’s final days in late 2016, Lew and Biden recommended vetoing a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning settlement building. In the end, the United States abstained, and the resolution went through.
At the 2017 Columbia University conference, Lew said he understood the rationale behind the decision not to veto. Obama administration officials, he said, used the abstention to leverage a less toxic resolution — but he still regretted it.
“Personally, I wish the resolution hadn’t been there at all. I’m not happy that there was a resolution,” he said. “I’m also happy it wasn’t in its original form where we would have had to veto it, but then the rest of the world would have been voting for this even harsher condemnation.”
He’s an Orthodox Jew who doesn’t place his observance at the center of his public identity.
Unlike Joe Lieberman, the Jewish former senator from Connecticut who was the Democrats’ vice presidential nominee in 2000, Lew has not placed his Orthodoxy front and center in his political identity.
But he has not been shy about it either, and in 2012, he stumped for Obama among Orthodox Jews and routinely briefed Orthodox Jewish groups about administration policies.
Obama, nominating Lew in 2013 to be Treasury secretary, said he was drawn to Lew in part because of his faith. “Maybe most importantly, as the son of a Polish immigrant, a man of deep and devout faith, Jack knows that every number on a page, every dollar we budget, every decision we make has to be an expression of who we wish to be as a nation, our values,” Obama said.
Stumping for Obama’s reelection in 2012, Lew told JTA that the president earned his loyalty in part by respecting his faith.
“As a father who is at home and has dinner with his girls, he values that Shabbat is my time being with my family,” Lew said then. “I could not ask for someone to be more respectful and supportive, and that’s the reason it works.”
Lew has deep connections to Israel, including as a board member of NLI USA, the American support group for the National Library of Israel.
He likes to advise young Orthodox Jews to consider public service, but he counsels humility. “You can practice your faith openly, but don’t ever take it for granted,” he said in 2019 at a New York forum with Lieberman. “And keep in mind that accommodations are being made for you.”
Lew was not the only candidate for the ambassador post with deep involvement in his Jewish community. Other names floated include Ted Deutch, the American Jewish Committee CEO who retired last year as a Florida Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives, and Robert Wexler, the former Florida Democratic congressman who now leads the Center for Middle East Peace and who was a close contender with Nides for the post in 2021.
Also touted was Kathy Manning, the Democratic congresswoman from North Carolina who is a past president of the Jewish Federations of North America. She would have been the first woman ever to hold the post.
A favorite story about Lew’s Judaism involves his walk home from synagogue on Shabbat when he was Clinton’s OMB director, hearing the phone ring and letting it click through to the answering machine — only to hear a staffer for Clinton, who was in another time zone, relay the president’s apology. After an earlier call, Clinton realized he was disturbing Lew’s Sabbath and wanted to say sorry.
Lew has a mild-mannered sense of humor. When he was attending Beth Sholom, an Orthodox synagogue in Potomac, Maryland, a rabbi jokingly asked him to run for treasurer. Lew rejoined that running the OMB was challenging enough.
And in discussions of Israel, he has displayed diplomatic skills of a sort. In a debate with Tevi Troy, a former senior Bush administration official who is also Orthodox, at a Beachwood, Ohio, Orthodox synagogue during the 2012 campaign, someone asked both men which their candidate would prefer — shawarma or falafel. Troy said Mitt Romney would opt for shawarma. Lew said Obama would happily eat either.
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50 years after the Yom Kippur War, veterans see echoes in Israel’s current crisis
(JTA) — Israelis were not sure their country would survive. American Jews were not sure how to respond.
Fifty years after the Yom Kippur War — which broke out on the holiest day of the Jewish calendar in 1973 and lasted for about three weeks — some of those who lived through that time are seeing another crisis play out again in the present day, as Israelis have been locked in civil strife over their government’s effort to weaken the Supreme Court.
But those who remember the 1973 war say there are two major differences between now and then: The threat to Israel today is not existential, they say, nor is it external. This year, Israelis are fighting amongst themselves.
In interviews, four veterans of the war and a Jewish American official who was at the center of his community’s response to it recalled vivid memories of the events, and spoke about the war’s echoes in the present day, as masses of Israelis see a threat to Israel’s democracy in the government’s proposed judicial overhaul. The Israelis who support the overhaul say that it will curb an activist judiciary and allow the elected government to better represent its right-wing base.
A government failed
Israelis were caught off-guard by the war, in part because their leaders did not heed the warnings from some intelligence officials who saw the Egyptian and Syrian armies build up forces that were poised to attack. The armies were positioned on the borders of the Sinai Desert and Golan Heights, next to territories Israel had captured in the 1967 Six-Day War.
“Israel was not prepared, in many ways we did not have military answers,” said Itzhak Brook, an Israeli physician who was serving in the military, attached to a supply battalion in the Sinai. “I think a lot of it was arrogance, a society that felt we were invincible, the euphoria that happened after the Six-Day War.”
Hillel Schenker, who was deployed to the Golan Heights to lay mines, said the anger at the country’s leadership was soon expressed in the streets — presaging the Israel of 2023.
“Soon there were thousands of people joining the protests against [Defense Minister Moshe] Dayan,” he said. “And soon there were thousands of people joining the protest against Dayan and to a degree also against Golda” Meir, then the Israeli prime minister. The protests eventually helped bring down Meir’s government and led to her replacement by Yitzhak Rabin.
The resonance in the United States
The three Americans who were among the veterans interviewed by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency said communicating within Israel during the war was a challenge — and staying in touch with relatives in the United States was much harder. They did not know until after the war how traumatized the American Jewish community was.
Allan Feldman, who was a sapper, tracking and destroying explosive ordnance, recalled that his mother in Baltimore managed to get through to him at a time when making a call often meant walking a considerable distance to pick up the phone.
“I’m an only child, and I had a hysterical mother,” he recalled. “So we were in touch.”
Abe Foxman, then a senior official in the Anti-Defamation League, which he would later lead for nearly three decades, said the American Jewish community was beside itself at the time.
“After ‘67, there was this euphoria, and after ‘73, there was this sadness, this pallor,” he said. “There was just this traumatic moment that God forbid, we could have lost Israel.”
Brook, who was born in Israel and who left eight months after the war to pursue a medical fellowship in the United States, said he was taken aback when he arrived stateside: American Jews had been traumatized, but with the passage of time it was no longer as immediate as it had been for Israelis.
“Many American Jews did not understand what Israel went through or what I went through,” he said. He wrote a book about his experiences, called “In the Sands of Sinai: A Physician’s Account of the Yom Kippur War.” He has delivered more than 200 lectures in person and via video chat to sustain the memory of the war.
A war that forever changed lives and a country
“Three weeks before the war, I did an idyllic tour of reserve duty in Dahab in the Sinai for a month,” Schenker recalled, referring to the Red Sea coastal resort that was, while it was under Israeli rule, a hub for alternative lifestyles. “We had no sense, no inkling that a war was coming.”
Schenker, who was from New York, had connections to the city’s folk scene and ambitions of launching a singing career in Israel, or perhaps pursuing a career in academia.
“The Yom Kippur War totally transformed, eliminated those paths and what happened to me is that I said, now the major challenge that I have and that my generation has is to try to achieve peace to prevent another outbreak like this one,” he said. He became a peace activist, helping to establish the activist group Peace Now, which grew to become one of Israel’s leading left-wing nonprofits.
Feldman said he was pleased that he avoided serving in the U.S. military’s war in Vietnam, and was ready to serve in Israel’s army. But he did not anticipate how much the country would change as a result of the war — becoming in his view more militaristic, more religious and more committed to West Bank settlement. He sees those trends in the present day.
“This is not the Zionist dream that I had,” he said. “What is going on with the extreme right wing government. I’m too worried about where Israel is going to worry about where it has been.”
Dave Holtzer, who served on guard duty during the war, also sees worrying resonances today.
“Then, it was a threat because the Syrians were going to kill us all,” Holtzer said. “Here, they’re not going to kill us, they’re just going to take away our democracy.
Brook, in his presentations to Jewish communities, describes the moment that he knew Israel would change forever.
“We evacuated a group of soldiers to a field hospital and as I walked out, I saw the sight of a hospital tent and a row of stretchers,” he said in a presentation he prepared in 2020 and shared with JTA. “Each of them was covered with a blanket. All you could see was shoes. Some were brown — paratroopers; some were black — armored corps or artillery.”
He recalled thinking, “The families of those men don’t know, and in a few hours someone will knock on their door and change their lives forever.”
As much as memorializing the Yom Kippur war has preoccupied him, Brook says he perceives a different and in some ways graver threat now.
“The threat to Israel is not so much from the militaries of the major Arab countries, the threat is the nuclear threat from Iran, the terror from Gaza and Lebanon, and also the internal strife in Israel because of the controversy over the judicial system,” he said. “That threat is even greater than the war — in war everyone is united, right now Israelis are divided.”
American Jews are more invested now
Instantaneous communication means that American Jews are more likely to be invested in the current crisis, Holtzer said.
“People ask what’s going on, they’re in touch everyday,” said Holtzer.
Feldman marvels at how he is in daily contact with his Israeli-raised son, who lives in the United States. “We talk almost every day on the laptop or you know, we see him and the kids on the screens,” he said.
Schenker said his American friends and family have an immediate sense of the crisis. “We didn’t have WhatsApp or Zoom or anything else,” he said. “My daughter in New York sends me photos of herself, demonstrating against Netanyahu.”
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Who is Siggy Flicker, the ‘Real Housewife’ behind Trump’s Rosh Hashanah message condemning ‘liberal Jews’?
(JTA) — Siggy Flicker, a former Real Housewife of New Jersey, says she often finds herself apologizing when she hangs out with her friend Donald Trump, a fellow reality TV star turned Republican activist.
“We’ll talk about the country and how much we love the country,” Flicker told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency this week. “And I’m always expressing to him, ‘It’s just so upsetting to me, I’m so sorry, Mr. President, for the liberal American Jews.’”
Most of the time, she said, that thought gets shared in private conversations: Flicker, who now lives in Florida and is a member of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club, said she’s dined with the former president and flown on his private plane. But this week, the sentiment exploded into public view after Trump shared a graphic that Flicker made for Rosh Hashanah on his social media platform.
“Just a quick reminder for liberal Jews who voted to destroy America & Israel because you believed false narratives!” said the graphic, which Trump posted on Sunday, near the end of the holiday. “Let’s hope you learned from your mistakes and make better choices moving forward! Happy New Year!”
The post immediately ignited criticism of Trump, who has accused left-leaning American Jews of “great disloyalty” in the past. A range of Jewish organizations condemned the post, which highlighted his record on Israel as president, and some called it “offensive” and “dangerous.”
Flicker, the Israeli-born daughter of Holocaust survivors, dismisses the concerns and says she was proud to see the former president share her work.
“Who cares if they found it offensive,” Flicker told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. “The bottom line is Donald Trump is leading in the polls. Donald Trump is not an antisemite. Donald Trump is a lover of the Jewish people and the State of Israel. And at the end of the day, if the liberal Jews are gonna get triggered and they find it offensive, who cares?”
Trump’s post offered new prominence for the role that Flicker is playing in the effort to return him to the White House. With some of his past Jewish advisors, including his own daughter and son-in-law, seemingly keeping their distance from his campaign as he faces four separate indictments, Flicker has emerged as something of an unofficial Jewish ambassador for Trump — espousing views that are far outside the norm for American Jews.
On her Instagram account, she lambasts President Joe Biden, who received a large majority of Jewish votes; warns of the arrival of migrants, an issue with Jewish historical freight; and quotes Tucker Carlson, the former Fox News host who echoed the antisemitic “Great Replacement” conspiracy theory.
There was a time, not long ago, when Flicker said, “I don’t like negative,” and added that she wanted to “bring light” to the cutthroat world of reality TV. Born in Israel in 1967 — her full first name is Sigalit — Flicker is the daughter of Mordecai Paldiel, a Holocaust survivor who served as director of Yad Vashem’s Righteous Among the Nations department for more than 20 years. She has lived in the United States since childhood and, as an adult, crafted a career as a matchmaker and relationship coach.
She was the host of a dating show, “Why Am I Still Single?!” which ran on VH1 for one season starting in 2011. Beginning five years later, she appeared on two seasons of “The Real Housewives of New Jersey.” Formerly a resident of Tenafly, a New Jersey suburb with a large Israeli population, Flicker now lives in Boca Raton, Florida full-time.
She has also written a book on dating and has co-hosted a podcast. Flicker’s second marriage, in 2012, made news because her first husband and the father of her two children served as best man.
It was around the time of her stint on “RHONJ,” starting in early 2016, as she tells it, that she first saw Trump’s appeal. (She was on the show for two seasons before quitting in a move that an anonymous source told Page Six was a response to antisemitic bullying.) She told JTA that she was a Democrat before then but saw Trump, a fellow reality TV star, as a fresh alternative.
“I said to myself, ‘Wow, finally a non-politician who’s a great businessman,” Flicker recalled. “I’m going to give him a try.’”
Seven years later, Flicker is a sworn Trump devotee. She said she and her husband have become personal friends with the former president in recent years, getting to know him through a mutual acquaintance, Alina Habba, who is one of Trump’s attorneys.
Since 2020, Flicker has been the spokeswoman for Jexit, an activist group formed in 2018 to persuade Jews to abandon their historical affinity with the Democratic Party — whose candidates regularly receive a solid majority of Jewish votes. She first got involved in Jexit after meeting its founder, Michelle Terris, and realizing that their sons were friends at Pennsylvania State University.
“She’s really a force and she is a true figurehead for our movement because she’s a legal immigrant,” Terris told JTA.
Jexit — which was loosely inspired by a similar group for Black Americans called Blexit, founded by the Black conservative activist Candace Owens — hosts prayer breakfasts, rallies and is planning an upcoming trip to Israel for a cohort of interfaith leaders. One of its goals is explicitly to promote “Judeo-Christian values,” a concept some critics say subsumes Jewish tradition within a promotion of Christian messages.
“Together we’re gonna make Judeo-Christian values great again,” Flicker said. “We’re not relying on the liberal Jews.”
Jexit’s programming director, Sofia Manolesco, told JTA that about 5,000 people are on Jexit’s mailing list. In a follow-up email, Terris said that after a “rough calculation,” their membership totals “50+ thousand.” The group has fewer than 10,000 Instagram followers; Flicker has more than 600,000.
The fact that Trump’s Rosh Hashanah post was written by a Jewish woman who works for a Jewish organization does not excuse it, said Halie Soifer, CEO of the Jewish Democratic Council of America.
“This is in his name, so it doesn’t matter who wrote it, this is attributed to him,” Soifer said. “It doesn’t matter that Jexit claims to be a Jewish organization.”
Soifer called the post’s claims “inherently antisemitic” and said, “A Jewish person can say offensive and even antisemitic things as well, if they so choose.”
In addition to her stances on Jews and Israel, Flicker holds a variety of conspiracy-driven views that have become increasingly commonplace on the far right. She told JTA that the 2020 election was stolen; that the mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, was primarily made up of “people dressed as Trump supporters” and was less severe than the destruction resulting from nationwide racial justice protests in 2020; and that Jews and Black people largely supported Trump ahead of the 2016 election until the “deep state” and “radical left” realized they “could not control him.” (She has previously said she was not in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 6, 2021.) She also referred to Biden repeatedly as the “resident” — a term meant to imply that he is not a legitimate president.
Her organization also repeats falsehoods about the 2020 election. The Jexit website still includes a flier for a 2020 local “Stop the Steal” event in Miami, and Flicker said, “One hundred percent, Jexit believes the 2020 election was stolen.” She also texted JTA a meme that read, “January 6th will be remembered as the day the government set up a staged riot to cover up the fact they certified a fraudulent election.”
Flicker is confident Trump will win next year — “regardless of what the deep state and the radical left do,” she said. She only wishes that most American Jews could see the light.
“It’s the number-one question that I get: ‘How do you feel about your own people funding their own demise?’” she said. “And I’m like, ‘It’s heartbreaking to me.’ But you know what, at this point, you got to wake them up and tell the truth.”
If you’re trying to connect to God on Yom Kippur, here’s a prayer for you
This story was originally published on My Jewish Learning.
(JTA) — For those of us who don’t regularly think in theological terms, the High Holiday liturgy can be jarring to read. Some of the messages are relatively easy to relate to, like the reminder of human frailty in Unetaneh Tokef (“Who will live and who will die?”) or the expression of remorse over our shortcomings in the confession litany (“We have sinned; we have been disloyal…”). But the traditional High Holiday prayer book also includes some far more abstruse ideas.
An obvious challenge is the centrality of animal sacrifice to the way the Day of Atonement was observed in the ancient Temple, a ritual we recount in detail during Yom Kippur. But the prayers also repeatedly invoke ideas about God that are far removed from our regular discourse.
Consider the repeated refrain of “And so, place your fear, O Lord our God, on all your creations.” Or this sequence describing God: “Who knows the inclination of all creations/ All believe that He creates them in the womb/ Who can do anything and unifies them together.” Reflecting on God’s exaltedness, pleading for mercy from a deity who knows our thoughts and holds the power of life and death over us — these are notions that are hard to grasp and difficult to come to terms with. How do we conceptualize and relate to God without recourse to a seminar in theology?
Even as it creates this challenge, the liturgy provides a solution by offering a range of different modes of relating to God. Nowhere is this clearer than in Ki Anu Amekha, a short poem (piyyut) recited multiple times on Yom Kippur to introduce the Viddui, the confessional prayer. It reads:
For we are your people, and you are our God.
We are your children, and you are our Father.
We are your servants, and you are our Lord.
We are your congregation, and you are our Portion.
We are your heritage, and you are our Destiny.
We are your flock, and you are our Shepherd.
We are your vineyard, and you are our Keeper.
We are your work, and you are our Maker.
We are your dear ones, and you are our Beloved.
We are your treasure, and you are our God.
We are your people, and you are our King.
We are your chosen ones, and you are our Chosen One.
This piyyut presents a list of relational pairs that characterize the relationship between Israel and God in various ways, all of which draw on comparisons to non-Divine relationships. It appears to be an expansion of a midrash on Song of Songs 2:16 that proposed several of these relational pairs, justifying each with a biblical verse. It is followed in the High Holiday prayer book by an additional stanza that relates more directly to themes of sin and forgiveness that are the leitmotif of the Day of Atonement, contrasting the human penchant for sin with God’s compassion and mercy. Less clear is the function of the section cited above. In what way does delineating this litany of relationships serve as a fitting introduction to a confession ritual?
I would argue that the purpose of listing these various relationships is to invite each of us to find ourselves in the poem as we stand before God and request atonement. People are complex and multi-faceted, and the way we relate to an infinite God is bound to be even more varied and intricate. Some people may relate best to God as a father who loves his children even as he disciplines them. Others may connect better to a political metaphor, seeing God as the king exercising dominion over his nation. Some of us experience God more intimately, as a shepherd tending the flock or a vintner caring for grape vines. Others see the relationship between Israel and God as one of passionate love as described in the Song of Songs. And some may see God primarily through the history of the Jewish people, as having chosen Israel for a particular divine destiny.
Each line of this piyyut depicts a particular quality of relationship between God and Israel, but none of them exhausts it. God simultaneously inhabits all of these modes of relation depending on the person, the point in time and the broader context in which the relationship manifests itself.
The poem, and the High Holy Days liturgy overall, represents God in these various ways not because everyone in synagogue is expected to develop a complex theology that can encompass them all, but because we can all likely connect to at least one mode of relating to God in our prayers. As each of us focuses on and resonates with a particular aspect of the God-Israel relationship, our collective recitation of Ki Anu Amekha serves to express the rich and varied tapestry of God. And hopefully our Father, our King, our Shepherd, our Lover, our Destiny will see fit to grant Israel forgiveness and make 5784 a year filled with blessings.
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