Came to synagogue late as the bar-mitzvah was winding down his chanting of the haftorah, which this week was taken from Ezekiel chapter 37. Translated into English, these were the lines that I immediately heard walking into the sanctuary. “Thus said Lord God, I am going to take the children of Israel from among the nations they have gone to and gather them from every quarter, and bring them to their own land…I will make a covenant of peace with them” (Ezek. 37:21, 26).
I don’t think it is so easy to separate Judaism and Zionism, but my interest in the verses has nothing to do with political theology, not directly. More prophecy than a call to political image, the verses are more haunting and beautiful when sung in a large resonant place before an assembled crowd, dreamy perhaps. On the page, they read a little but more dull and didactic.
For some reason the modern JPS translation translates “brit shalom” as a “covenant of friendship,” whereas “covenant of peace” makes for a more exacting translation and for a more challenging association. Brit Shalom was the name of a political organization in British Mandate Palestine based on the principle of Arab-Jewish cooperation and bi-nationalism. More prophetic than political, its most famous members were Martin Buber and Gershom Scholem.