(By Adam Scott Bellos)
In "The Jewish State''" Herzl wrote, “The Jewish question still exists. It would be foolish to deny it… it exists wherever Jews live in perceptible numbers.” More than 100 years later, this statement is still relevant. We live in a world that denies us the very reality that defined us for two millennia--our separateness, uniqueness, and independent national identity.
Many of our problems stem from internal issues. For example, why did we ever focus on producing “North American Jews” instead of just plain old Jews? This branding is impacting the state of Israel’s legitimacy, in ways never thought possible.
What happened to “Klall Yisrael?”
We need to stop compartmentalizing Jews as Conservative, Reform, Orthodox, Reconstructionist or Humanist. How about identifying ourselves as just plain old Jews? We are one people, or at least we used to be. We’ve become splinters of a people. Instead of accepting every Jew''s right to worship as he or she wishes, the faith and practices of our forefathers divides us. Conversely, we need to accept and respect the legitimacy of Jewish tradition, instead of altering it for one’s own personal gains, benefits, or conformability.
In attempting to create Jews by geographic regions, Diaspora Jews, adopt that national identity, distancing themselves from Judaism, the Jewish world, and Israel. No one knows what it means to be a Jew anymore. Let’s face it; Jewish education lacks a whole lot of ruach. Why else do we have this problem?
The majority of Jews (and I include myself in that group) lack the education the Jewish people once prized. Many secularized, assimilated Jews of the Diaspora don''t comprehend the necessity for Jewish State in the Land of Israel. They are missing the connection every Jew has to our people. The concept of each Jew as an indispensible link in the chain of our people’s existence is foreign to them.
We need new offensive, a Re-Jew-vination of the Jewish Nation. Tikkun Ha’am, repairing the people. The once cherished national identity of the Jewish people is a stake. It is time for us to admit to ourselves that it is okay to be a Jew before anything else. If not, the juggernaut of assimilation will create dire consequences for our national entity.
The more we legitimize our national identity, the more we disarm anti-Israelist propaganda. Our strongest ammunition is our people''s strong national identity. We are a unique people; there is nothing wrong with it! Vive la difference!
Young Jews need to form a coalition, both secular and religious, both Israeli and the Diasporic. Bold, breathless, thirsty, caring, daring, actively involved Jews who will milk our cultural identity for everything it’s got. Let''s start the process of Tikkun Ha''am by creating a meaningful, unified message for Judaism, Zionism, and Israel.
My generation is annoyed, and sickened, by what is Jewish politics in the Jewish professional word. Many believe that it is a major cause of the deterioration of the Jewish identity outside of Israel. Without true unity we will never be re-Jew-vinated. For the sake of the generations of Jews to come, let''s set aside the petty internal politics.
If we are not for ourselves, then who will be for us?