We are one nation, one family. All things pass and yet we remain

Our sufferings have been unspeakable and innumerable, and again there are people who call for our destruction. But we must stand tall as members of our great nation. We are Israel


Close up image depicting the Jewish religious symbol of the star of David inside a synagogue. The star is in silhouette, while in the background stained glass windows are blurred out of focus. Horizontal colour image with copy space.

October 26, 2023 11:48

I was once discussing Israel with a high-ranking clergyman of the Catholic Church. In the midst of this he turned to me and said, “The Jewish people are precious and Judaism is the mother religion, but do you really need your own land”? I was taken aback by the insinuation of the question. I paused before answering him and understood that, from his position, he was thinking of Jews as a religious group and was speaking to me from a religious perspective. My answer, then, needed to reframe his approach. I said, “I am sure you have read the Bible. You will know then that, before we were a religion, we were a sovereign nation on that very land. Israel is our national homeland before it is our religious centre”. He did not answer.

For close to 2,000 years we have lived in almost every part of the globe. We have absorbed the cultures, customs, languages and philosophies of the world’s nations, both ancient and modern. But we remain, even after all that time, one people. We are Israel. We are members of an ancient yet vibrant nation. We have seen every empire, political force and world power. Our sufferings have been unspeakable and innumerable at the hands of those powers. And still, all things pass and we remain. We are an indestructible people. And those who hate us know this.

But there is something more to the uniqueness of our nationhood. Our roots are in kin as opposed to common goals or clannish living. Our founding fathers are actually our familial ancestors, not just our ideological progenitors. We are not just one nation, we are one family.

Here we are again, witnessing the worst atrocities to be inflicted upon us in more than 80 years. We have watched innocent people — many of whom each of us know personally or by degrees of separation — who have been ruthlessly murdered or are being held hostage. Children, young adults, parents and the old and infirm. We are grieving, hurting, angry, sad and fearful.

We are also coming to terms with the tragic fact that there are those in this world — including here in the UK — who gleefully gather in the streets to call for our destruction.
Thus today every Jew, no matter one’s belief or ideologies (Hamas couldn’t care less) must stand tall as a member of our great nation. We are all Israel. We must, in our fear and grief, draw on the strength of our epic and historic presence and distil it into our present consciousness. The pride of our people must fill our waking hours. The strength of our national spirit must cradle us in our sleep. We do not go away. It is our covenant with God and it has held true for four millennia.

We must continue to support each other as best we can. So reach out, check in and offer words of love and encouragement to our national family.

Let us channel our anger and grief into productive action and reach out to those who can and should help, whether it be a friend or a government official, an influencer or a journalist. We must continue sending aid to Israel in all forms.It is difficult to see the horrors and stare into the harrowing face of evil to find our footing. But find it we must, as we always have. Hope, tikva, is our national anthem.

It seems that the Jewish people are up against the world. While the hatred can feel overwhelming, let it not drown out the voices of friendship, solidarity, admiration, and care that come to us from the non-Jewish world. In times like these we know who our friends are.

We will not forget their support. Let them know what they can do to show their solidarity with our community, Israel and the hostages.

Let us remember we fight this war as a sovereign people on our national homeland. Every pogrom and persecution that we have previously endured has lacked that important detail. It is a miracle even in this dark time. Allow the light of that miracle to be a source of strength for you.

Know as well that our Torah, its wisdom and commandments, has ensured our survival as a people. It is not just our religious guide, it is our national treasure. Find solace in our spiritual and intellectual home as much as our physical one.

Finally, please pray. Pray for those who are still held captive, for our soldiers, for those who worry for their loved ones every minute, and for the Jewish people everywhere. May God bless us all.

Rabbi Joseph Dweck is the Senior Rabbi of the S&P Sephardi Community of the United Kingdom

October 26, 2023 11:48

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