What does Jewish Identity Mean to YOU?
“Who has inflicted this upon us? Who has made us Jews different from all other people? Who has allowed us to suffer so terribly up till now? It is God that has made us as we are, but it will be God, too, who will raise us up again. If we bear all this suffering and if there are still Jews left, when it is over, then Jews, instead of being doomed, will be held up as an example. Who knows, it might even be our religion from which the world and all peoples learn good, and for that reason and that reason alone do we have to suffer now. We can never become just Netherlanders, or just English, or representatives of any country for that matter; we will always remain Jews, but we want to, too.”
― Anne Frank
“[F]or me, being a Jew means feeling the tragedy of yesterday as an inner oppression. On my left forearm I bear the Auschwitz number; it reads more briefly than the Pentateuch or the Talmud and yet provides more thorough information. It is also more binding than basic formulas of Jewish existence. If to myself and the world, including the religious and nationally minded Jews, who do not regard me as one of their own, I say: I am a Jew, then I mean by that those realities and possibilities that are summed up in the Auschwitz number.”
― Jean Améry, At the Mind's Limits: Contemplations by a Survivor on Auschwitz and Its Realities
In the meantime, Lot decided that he would try and integrate himself as much as possible with the people of Sodom. Although he was Jewish, he now felt like one of them...
Lot represents Model #1 of Jewish Identity, namely universalism vis-a-vis integration. However, as we shall see, this approach ends up backfiring...
God then sends two angels to destroy the city of Sodom...
Points to Ponder:
What do you think the mob meant by saying, "This fellow came here as a foreigner, and now he wants to play the judge?"
What might their behavior show about Lot's approach ofuniversalism vis-a-vis integration into the city of Sodom?
Now let's take a look at a different approach to Jewish Identity, that of Abraham. How might his approach differ from that of his nephew Lot?
We see that although Abraham does not become like the people of Sodom, he still prays on their behalf. He cares about society without assimilating into it.
The nations of the world respect us when we respect ourselves, and are confident in who we are as a people
We believe "chasidei umot ha'olam yesh la'hem chelek l'olam habah," meaning other nations of the world have a portion in the world to come. We do not believe that everyone must be Jewish - we are a non-evangelizing faith.
In what way can we shape our Jewish Identities that we can make them particular, yet universal, positive, yet charged with responsibility, integrated, but not assimilated?
"Because we are all different, we each have a contribution that only we can make. That is the way of Abraham." - Rabbi Jonathan Sacks