This article is a response to the question – Is the Jewish divide leading to self destruction – in a recent JTVC article.
Bonds between Israel and the Jewish Diaspora
Returning to our initial line of inquiry, while we haven’t yet fully addressed the original question if there’s a need for strengthening bonds between Jews in the Diaspora and Israel, we have more than determined the undisputed fact that there is clearly disunity, between Jews throughout the world. No prizes for coming to that obvious conclusion! Turning our attention to how things could improve if there did exist better communication in this arena, the way is littered with trip wires that could make a minefield seem like a walk through a picnic site. Why would that be the case? Every attempt at even trying to gather entrenched contestants together can also backfire, placing the participant in such a venture exposed to ridicule and even exile from their own home camp.
Torah precepts for helping each other
I can almost hear many thinking aloud about the need to keep adversaries in a state of exile, doomed to suffer a bitter fate for not sharing their own values. But surely, such an attitude goes against many Torah precepts. We are commanded not to harbor a grudge against a fellow Jew, we are commanded to help a Jewish enemy who stumbles under a heavy load, not to help just once, but repeatedly. There is an exception to that latter command, which states that we should help him together with his own efforts to help himself. Is this sounding familiar? We earlier mentioned potential reluctance by our brothers in the Diaspora to receive help from those living in Israel, maybe even vice-versa. Like the virus plaguing our lives, we are cast further apart from each other. And this happens at a time when our obsession with the Internet compounds any attempt to connect with others! But I’m drifting off topic here, and having made the salient point about the obvious difficulties in trying to bring us closer together, feel obliged to return to the question of how things could improve in that process. In one sense I feel that it’s almost insulting to my audience to pose such a rhetorical question. Surely there is no such question and it’s obvious that there will be improvements. But hold on, if it was so obvious, how comes that we are still so irreconcilable? Accordingly, allow me to address the question of how it could improve our lives.
Is it a personal or national mission?
First, many might think in simple terms of bringing Jews together based on those they share something solid with. For example, family, friends left behind in the Diaspora, previous community members, and so on. But is there really such a wide gap here other than a geographical one? What I have so far outlined involves those who’s very political or religious views are so far removed from our own that for all intents and purposes we live on separate planets. We are accordingly alienated from each other just like beings from another world. I hope you are up for a challenge because this is one hell of a one!
A potential solution
Do you recall mention of the Revival Theme, something about strengthening bonds between Jews in the Diaspora and Israel, without getting tripped up in religious or political issues? Let’s explore some real simple ways that a dialogue can progress.
There were 200 children in my infant school, 199 were not Jewish and that same 199 supported our local football team, Chelsea. I supported Arsenal and never once got into an argument over religion! Do you have pet likes, a Netflix series, a hobby, well let’s not venture further. Of course the short answer is yes, and of course you are able to enjoy some form of casual and warm communication with others who share your passion, regardless of their political or religious beliefs, because that’s not part of the agenda. Now picture again those Jews we’ve placed in exile and imagine having a conversation with each other based on a favorite subject. Easy peavy right! Yes, Lionel Messi should never have left Barcelona, it was an outrage, oh did you mention something about praying on a moving bus driven by a left wing gay fanatic last Shabbat?
Doesn’t it feel good just making agreeable connections with others, and how much more so when we each share our own love for an entity called Judaism, and especially Israel. Baby steps can go a long way, a lifetime in fact.
We’ve just learnt simple ways to improve the atmosphere. And being raised in London, if it wasn’t for the atmosphere bringing constant rain there was nothing to talk to each other about.
The solution in focus
Having identified a problem, it’s time to explore a solution. I for one firmly believe in the need for gathering together our people and strengthening the bonds between Jews in the Diaspora and Israel. One could rightfully say that there’s too much dividing us so why bother in the first place? Yes, there’s some truth in that, but it’s possible to attempt the nigh impossible through sidestepping political and even religious obstacle that many stubbornly use for self-justification, despite the ongoing damage caused. Hopefully, having got your attention so far, allow me to explain how this can be accomplished. Who likes a good party, come on I know I do? When we gather around the birthday child, or the folks enjoying a golden jubilee, etc., where’s the focus, it is naturally upon the object of the celebration! Most families have pet animosities towards someone else. In that regards, the sad events described above can also be placed in the same context as a family group coming together to honor someone else, and grudgingly placing family feuds aside for the duration of that event.
Let’s now return to Israel’s Diamond Jubilee. Whether we know it or not, Jews are also the Children of Israel. That’s right, Israel a.k.a. Jacob ben Issac, was later known as Israel, and his offspring were naturally called the Children of Israel. Even an extended family that includes converts, those with less than a fully recognized Jewish birth, and worthwhile friends, can all still subscribe to being part of this grand gathering.
Think about that for a moment. Israel is our great, great, and greatest granddaddy. Israel is the Jewish Homeland, and Israel is also a state, an entity, about to celebrate 75 years of existence, and still going strong!
The Revival Project relates to festivities focused on this Diamond Jubilee, and less on the individual politics and other issues of participants who chose to celebrate it. We have a Revival Theme that aims to strengthen bonds between Jews in the Diaspora and Israel, through focusing on this miraculous event, nothing less than the revival of the Children of Israel. So, you party spoilers, nobody’s stopping you from joining in the festivities in your own sweet way. Pause for a moment about what it’s possible to achieve by gathering ourselves together? Many a deep family feud has been repaired through sharing a common event. There’s no reason to believe that allowing the spirit behind Israel to be our invisible guide and leader, miracles can happen, such as a new revival. Regardless of where each one is at, the Revival Project offers a fun and friendly way to discover the amazing essence of the Children of Israel. Jacob asked his children to gather together, as a prelude to entering a new dawn of hope.
There’s an urgent need for strengthening bonds between Jews in the Diaspora and Israel.
We’re Getting It Together – that’s our slogan!