Weekly Newsletter Message

What does it mean to be a Jew?

What does it mean to be a Jew?

There are many answers to the question. Here are some:

        To be a Jew means to value education.

        To be a Jew means to be part of a nation that shaped the moral civilization of  the West, teaching for the first time that human life is sacred, and that rich      and poor, great and small, are all equal before G-d.

        To be a Jew means that I am a connecting link between the generations. The dreams and hopes of my ancestors live on in me.

         To be a Jew means to be called upon to live a life of morality and meaning  as outlined at Mt Sinai thousands of years ago.

I'd love to hear your answer, but here’s my personal favorite:

To be a Jew means to belong. To be part of a family.

The Torah never refers to the Jewish religion; instead it uses the terminology- Bnei Yisroel, the children of Israel. We are a family.

I witnessed this yesterday as I watched the wedding of Sarah Techiya Litman and Ariel Beigel.

Their wedding was postponed after Palestinian terrorists murdered the bride’s father and brother less than two weeks ago. The bride’s father, Rabbi Yaakov Litman, and 18-year-old brother Netanel were shot dead in a November 13 terrorist attack while driving to a celebration in southern Israel to mark the imminent marriage.

Sarah and Ariel were due to be married on November 16, just four days after the attack, but the celebration was postponed as the Litman family sat shiva (Jewish mourning period) for Ya’akov and Netanel.

After the Shiva, the bride invited the “entire world” to her wedding on social media.

"Don't let our enemies rejoice. We have fallen and we have risen," (Micah 7:8) She wrote. "With G-d’s help, our wedding will take place next Thursday, 26 November, 14 Kislev, at Binyanei Hauma in Jerusalem. The Jewish nation is invited to rise from the dust and celebrate with us."

The week of the wedding it was relocated to the Jerusalem International Convention Center to accommodate the crowds. Thousands of guests, most who did not know the couple before, arrived to celebrate with them.

The chupah was streamed live over the internet. Over 10,000 people tuned into the live stream to participate in the Simcha from a distance. After the chupah, I watched online as a young man approached the mother of the bride wishing her a Mazal Tov. Then he said “I am from Montreal and I stood up in Synagogue this past Shabbat and announced that I will be going to Sarah and Ariel’s wedding. I’m going to show my support. I’m going to celebrate and dance with the bride and groom, their families, their friends, and all of the Jewish people. If you want you can come with me. Twelve of us bought tickets at the last second and here we are”

Can you imagine? Complete strangers traveling from all over the world to dance with a bride and groom they have never met. But this is what it means to be a Jew. We are not strangers. We are family.

To be a Jew is to belong to a family. A family with deep bonds. A family that care for one another.

Am Yisroel Chai!

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Benjy Silverman

P.S. Please share your answer and thoughts here

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