Aug 262010
Authors: Rabbi Allison Peiser, Campus Director of Hillel of Colorado at CSU

As the new Campus Director for Hillel at CSU, it is exciting to see the campus come to life this week.  It seems fitting that this year, the beginning of the school year coincides with special events in both the Jewish calendar and the Muslim calendar ––the Hebrew month of Elul and Ramadan. 

For our Jewish community, Elul is a month of introspection as our people enter into the New Year on Rosh Hashanah, which occurs Sept. 8-10 this year.

Symbolically, those who attend morning services on the two days of the holiday hear the sound of the shofar, or ram’s horn, which encourages people to “wake up” and to cease their “wandering in the desert.”

I was deeply saddened to see the op-ed published in the Collegian by Samuel Lustgarten, which, in my opinion, maintains the status quo of “wandering” described above. In explaining the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, the writer assigns all of the blame for the protracted conflict on Israel and its leaders. One choice for responding to this article would be from a place of pain, anger and confusion, since the article puts a complex situation into catch phrases, undefined terms, historical inaccuracies and virulent criticism of one party.   

But I prefer to suggest that now is the time to enter into a new phase of hope, connection, optimism and freedom. It is time to wake up –– to come out of a period of wandering, in which Israel and its Arab neighbors have been defined by bloodshed, fear, tension and pessimism. 

Next week, direct negotiations will resume between Israel and the Palestinians with the support of the United States and others. At this critical juncture, we need to open ourselves up to conversations to hear the voices, and learn the histories of each of the parties involved in the conflict and become active participants in a dialogue. 

As a university, we can utilize the resources at our disposal to focus on the history, culture, geography and political structure of the area. As individuals we can articulate our hopes, fears, confusion and opinions. The possibilities of these discussions are endless.

One lesson that the failed summit at Camp David in 2000 taught us is that leaving the table and closing the possibility to open conversations can lead to increased violence and bloodshed.

My hope is that we enter a new year at CSU and in the Jewish calendar during which we can utilize the resources at our disposal to open this conversation, to sit at a table together as a community and to wake up to the Ram’s Horn that speaks to each of us.  As an organization, Hillel of Colorado at CSU provides opportunities for students to learn more about the complexities of the situation Israel faces. 

Rabbi Allison Peiser is the Campus Director of Hillel of Colorado at CSU. Hillel is the Center for Jewish Campus Life. Rabbi Allison can be reached at and letters and feedback can be sent to

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