Judaism is no longer something that is defined by narrow constraints. It is not in a synagogue, it is not found in a Jewish Community Center (JCC), and it is not a country club, a camp or a physical space at all.
Judaism lives in each and every one of us. Judaism is in our homes, the faces of our loved ones. Judaism is an idea, a feeling, an expression and it cannot be contained.
For nearly 4,000 years we have gone from an ancient, ethno-centric, cultic peoplehood, to a unified and self-identified socio-ethnic group. We are Hebrews, we are Israelis, and we are Yehudim, Ioudaiois and Jews. We further developed into a religion. We have tradition, culture, our own language, food, music, literature, philosophy and poetry. We have a history that is documented in every nation and although we comprise only 0.2% of the global population, we have made the greatest impact on our society.
I am writing this first blog to give you permission to be a Jew. That is right, I am telling you it is okay to be a Jew. In fact, you can be a proud Jew. Judaism is a multi-faceted way of life. It is the never-ending feast. It is a constant dialogue and a boundless pursuit of facts, concepts and definitions.
We come from poets, princesses and warrior kings. We are not defined by our tragedies, but by our successes and our love of life. So why “be” a Jew? Because we are to be a light unto the nations. Everyday is an opportunity to bring light into the world. Remember who you are, where you came from, who your ancestors were and be a proud Jew.
Today we are seeing anti-Semitism rise in Europe, Jews have been long exiled from the Middle East and today American college campuses have decided that anti-Israel is okay because it is not anti-Jew. Rather, it is the hip new anti-Semitism.
Judaism is about democracy, liberal ethics and an ideology that allows for difference, questions and plurality. We must respect and uphold these Jewish ethics because we are after all, Jews.
In the U.S. we blend in; we can hide in plain site and no one really knows that one is Jewish. We pass as white and are therefore fully integrated into society. I want to encourage each Jew from now on to see themselves as Semitic people. Whether your ancestors came from Europe, Africa, Asia, South America or the Middle East- it is irrelevant. The same DNA runs through our veins and we are one. The entire people of Israel make up one living organism. We are all parts of a whole and we comprise the totality of completeness of Jewry. Anachnu echad!