Limmud 2019: Doing Jewish Around the World

(א) וַיֹּ֤אמֶר יְהוָה֙ אֶל־אַבְרָ֔ם לֶךְ־לְךָ֛ מֵאַרְצְךָ֥ וּמִמּֽוֹלַדְתְּךָ֖ וּמִבֵּ֣ית אָבִ֑יךָ אֶל־הָאָ֖רֶץ אֲשֶׁ֥ר אַרְאֶֽךָּ׃

(1) The LORD said to Abram, “Go forth from your native land and from your father’s house to the land that I will show you.

(ב) ויאמר ה' אל אברם לך לך מארצך, אמר לו שתכלית היציאה הוא שיפרד מדעותיהם וממעלליהם הנשחתות... וצוה ה' שעם היציאה הגופניית תהיה גם יציאה מחשביית, שיפרד מטבע ארצו שהיה מזגה רע וממדות אנשי מולדתו.

(2) “The L-rd said to Abram ‘Go forth from your land…” [G-d] told him that the purpose of his departure was to separate him from corrupt ways and ideas… And G-d commanded him that along with his physical departure there would be a philosophical departure, in order to separate from the way of his land.

The Jewish Haj by Joy Sisisky

From the outside, I seem like a good Jew. But what you don’t know is I don’t fast on Yom Kippur anymore, I eat bread during Passover and I don’t pray. Instead of going to synagogue I would rather go to Siberia, not because I hate synagogue but because it makes me feel more Jewish, more than lighting candles, more than keeping kosher... I do it because what makes me feel like a good Jew is visiting a Holocaust survivor in her home; she’s homebound, she’s bedridden, she hasn’t left in 7 years, she’s wearing a diaper, there are roaches crawling on her floor and they are crawling up her bedposts, she is happy to have me there because I am the only connection she has to the outside world. I do it because what makes me feel like a good Jew is visiting a man in Tblisi, who has lost everything in the war with Russia, his family and his home and he wants to give me and my friends a bag of apples and a piece of cheese, the only food he has left to eat. Or hugging a grandma who lives in a tent on the golf course on Porta Prince. She hasn’t bathed and all she has on is an old pair of shoes and open robe, when I bend over to hug her I can smell her and it makes me feel very Jewish.