Why At All Be Jewish?

Paratroopers at the Kotel. Photo of David Rubinger, Courtesy of GPO

Be a part of the Jewish people. Our people is a unique phenomenon with nothing like it in the world. We have an unparalleled rich cultural and historic heritage. In recent times, just think how many Nobel laureates are Jews, and how many other scientific and cultural contributions Jews have made to the world.

Be proud to be part of the nation which brought the world the very foundation of Western morality: the Ten Commandments. Let us recall the contribution of American Jews to the US civil rights struggle, the Soviet Jewish dissidents’ contribution to the struggle of the Crimean Tatars, etc.

Fight for justice and take the side of the underdog. Be on David’s side rather than Goliath’s. The Jewish people is compared to a single sheep among 70 wolves. The Arab nations have as many as 21 states, with enormous populations, oil reserves, and other financial resources.  The whole world, and particularly Europe, fears them. They preach hatred towards Jews, aggression and terror from the time their children are born, and their proclaimed goal is to murder. Just take a look at the textbooks that they use to teach their own children history.

Be special. Be a part of a special people. How do I know we are special? We are like the “Ugly Duckling”; we are hated for being different, unique. We are always in the world’s eye, always in the news, always relevant –- just look at how much media attention we get.

Take on a challenge. Being Jewish means being part of our historical and spiritual mission. It is a challenge, and no-one promises that it will be easy, but we’re making history.

Be connected. Jews have a unique feeling of being connected to each other, like “birds of a feather who flock together.”  Be connected both in space (with Jews of this generation all over the world) and in time (with all previous generations). We are closely knit, and it is impossible to separate our past from our present or our future.

Be proud of the stamina and fortitude the Jewish people have shown throughout their history. They have managed to withstand what no other nation has withstood. Against all odds, the Jewish people have survived millennia of persecution and martyrdom, and we’re proud to be here.

Take a stand against the dissolution of our people by assimilation. Yes, we could assimilate and dissolve as a nation. It would be like breaking an ancient amphora into small pieces –- all the molecules would still be intact but the amphora, the masterpiece, would be gone.

Celebrate our ultimate victory over Hitler and anti-Semitism. Being Jewish has been significant for anti-Semites throughout history, culminating in the Holocaust, where the Nazis murdered 6 million Jews just for the crime of being Jewish. Throughout history, other nations have often viewed us as a nation, rather than a multitude of individuals. For example, if a Jew steals something, other people would often say, “the Jew stole it” rather than identifying a specific person who committed the crime. Certainly the worst thing we could do in Hitler’s eyes would be to go on being proudly Jewish, and therefore that’s our greatest victory.

Be a messenger of eternity. In the long chain of generations who brought us their spiritual and ethnic message, we have the chance to continue this chain rather than being the ones to break it. I see myself as a messenger, as a representative of all those generations who saw so little hope for the Jews.  I want to pass on the “torch” intact to the next generation.

What Do you think?

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