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    Why I am a Jew – B’ha’alot’cha

    Revelation at Sinai, painting by Zely Smekhov

    God commands Moses to tell Aaron about lighting the lamps (Num. 8:2). In a broader sense every one of us is an Aaron who needs light to illumine his life.

    Is there something in Jewish identity that gives life meaning?

    For some people the chief feature of Jewish identity is the Holocaust. “Why am I a Jew? Without the Holocaust I would not feel Jewish!” Others say, “Without Israel I would not feel Jewish!”

    The Holocaust Jew says, “I am Jewish because I cannot be annihilated!” The Israel Jew says, “I am Jewish because my determination cannot be squashed!”

    There is something great in both ideas, but there is something missing, the deeper dimension that says, “I am Jewish because of Sinai. Without Sinai I would not feel Jewish!”

    Sinai is shorthand for spirituality, wisdom, commitment, compassion, excitement, cultural richness. With Sinai I find a message in every moment, a poem in every place, a challenge in every deed.

    The Holocaust Jew and the Israel Jew should not forget to be a Sinai Jew.

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