Friday, February 10, 2012

How to put the Jewish Chronicle and the London Jewish News out of business

Anti Semitism is a problem, yes. But how much of a problem? The Jewish press in Britain chooses to report Anti-Semitic incidents on the front page almost every week. What unites us, as Jews, in the eyes of the media is the way we are chased and hated. It doesn't matter what synagogue you are affiliated with, if at all. Or what colour your kippah is - if you wear one. The remaining pages do the work on highlighting what divides us. This is a problem, and here is one solution. First, when did the Israelites become a nation? When was the transition from, ‘children of Israel’ to ‘am - the nation of, Yisrael’? In the beginning of Exodus, the title “nation” is given to the Hebrews by King Pharaoh. He said: “Behold! The nation of the children of Israel is growing stronger than us” - let us devise a plan to rid ourselves of them. And so began the labour and death. Yet, in this week’s Torah portion – a couple of hundred years later - the Israelites stood at the foot of Mount Sinai and Moses tells them: “You shall become to me [G-d] a kingdom of priests and a holyn ation.” So who made us a people? Pharaoh or Moses? Was it in Egypt or at Mount Sinai? Perhaps this double ‘people-making’ represents the great identity crisis of our people. What makes you Jewish? What is the commonality uniting all Jews? There is Pharaoh’s (Haman, Hitler, Ahmedinjad etc.) definition, in terms of anti-Semitism. We are the group that causes all the problems. Some people see themselves on a united Jewish front, if we were all being chased (G-d forbid). Then there is Moses’ definition: “You shall become a kingdom of priests and a holy nation,” build a world saturated with light and love and unite in a life full celebrating the Torah and Mitzvot with joy. Will we be bound only in our collective fate or our collective faith? Moses tells the Jewish people, Hayom hazeh nehayata laam! Today you have become a nation! Today - Here at Sinai, not there in Egypt. When we unite for the good of our faith, the united front of our fate will only be good. So let us change the headlines, although that won’t leave much to print on the middle pages.

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