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Rabbi Greenberg's Column
Temple Newsletter for February 23rd, 2024
I remember being in Israel almost fifty years ago when Israel was
marking its 25 th Independence Day. And I recall standing in a large
crowd of people in Jerusalem for a parade and watching as a number of
fighter jets flew above us in the shape of a Magen David—a Jewish Star.
And as I looked around at the people near me, I saw tears in people’s
eyes as they witnessed this show of strength and pride, especially
among the elderly people.
Now fifty years later, we Jews face so many questions about Israel’s
strength and well being, and a world that seems to be so hostile, not
only toward Israel, but toward all of us who identify ourselves as
Jewish. Do we feel as secure as we did fifty years ago? What place
does Israel have in our lives and in the life of the Jewish people? And
how are we to react to the antisemitism that seems to fill the minds
and hearts of so many people?
Over the years, I’ve spoken often about my concern that we Jews know
far better what we are against than what we are for. That is to say that
we are all against antisemitism. We’re all against Israel being
condemned by much of the world. But what are we for? What is it that
causes us to take pride in our Jewish identity? What are the values and
ideals that animate our Jewish identity, or what is it that we cherish
about being Jewish.
A number of years ago Thomas Cahill wrote what I consider to be a very
important book entitled “The Gifts of the Jews.” I think that one short
paragraph says it all. “The Jews started it all—and by ‘it’ I mean so
many of the things we care about, the underlying values that make all
of us, Jew and gentile, believer and atheist, tick. Without the Jews, we
would see the world through different eyes, hear with different ears,
even feel with different feelings. And we would set a different course
for our lives….Their worldview has become so much a part of us that at
this point it might as well have been written into our cells as a genetic
So I leave you with a question, and I would love to receive your
response: What is it that you most value about being Jewish at such a
troubled time as this?
I wish you Shabbat Shalom and hope that you will join us this evening
Rabbi David Greenberg