Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Jewish Identity and Pride (what's that?)

Kol Yisrael Araivim Zeh La'Zeh - The Jewish People are responsible for one another.  The "Buddy System" at work.

What a crazy concept!  Why should I be responsible for you and why would I ever want you to be responsible for my actions?

The Jewish People make up one whole "body".  When a part of our physical body hurts - our whole body seems to hurt.  If I stub my toe I don't feel good again until it feels better.

The same goes for the Jewish People.  When one part of the Jewish People are hurting - we all hurt.  When our brothers and sisters in the Land of Israel need our support - we should be there for them.  When Jewish identity across America boils down to having a lox and cream cheese bagel, it should hurt us as well.  

If the Jewish identity can be eaten, what does it say for Jewish pride?  How can we have pride in something we know nothing about?  A 4000 year history full of heroic people (yes, men and women) doing heroic things and most of us don't know anything about it.  Jewish pride has been replaced by the mantra "Never Again" - with the focus on a horrific drop in the historical bucket of Jewish history.

What does identity and pride have to do with being responsible for each other?  Why should I care about you, and why should you care about me?  A story will better illustrate this point.  Two men are in a rowboat.  One man pulls out a drill and starts drilling a hole into the bottom of the boat.  The second man yells at him saying, "What do you think you're doing?!"  The first man says, "Hey, mind your own business!"

The obvious problem is that a hole in the boat will drown them both.  The lack of Jewish identity and pride hurt all the Jewish People, not just those who "choose" to opt out.  We are responsible for each other, it's time to notice there's a problem.  The question then becomes - what do we do about it?

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