Session I – What are we?
Let’s start with a quick challenge, to get the ball rolling…
- How many times is “Jewish religion” mentioned? Why do you think this is?
- Compare this to the amount of times you see “Jewish People” mentioned. Why does it appear so often?
- What might we learn from this about the connection between the Jewish People and the State of Israel?
Seeing as the founders of the State of Israel saw “Jewish People” as fairly important(!), we reckon that it would be worth our while beginning our conversations about Israel by fleshing out what the term means, and its connection to the Jewish religion…
Take a look at a short video featuring master educator Avraham Infeld:
So – what do you think – are we “out of our minds”?
Do you feel part of the Jewish People? Can you share a moment or an experience when you felt part of the Jewish People?
Take a look at this list.
Would you say these activities have more to do with the Jewish People, the Jewish religion, or some mixture of both?
- Singing Hatikvah
- Attending a Holocaust remembrance day ceremony
- Visiting Jerusalem
- Having a Bar/Bat Mitzvah
- Studying Torah
- Reciting the Shema
- Speaking Hebrew
- Participating in a Pesach Seder
- Fasting on Yom Kippur
- Attending a Leonard Cohen or Matisyahu concert
- Going to Synagogue on Shabbat
- Keeping Kosher
- Believing in God
- Volunteering time to eradicate the global human slave trade
- Going to Jewish summer camp
- Hanging out with Jewish friends
- Eating bagels and lox, gefilte fish, and the like
- Fundraising money for Sunday Relief
Having argued one way, see if you can argue it the other way, too…
How does the assertion that we are a People and not just a religion resonate with you?
Does the idea of being part of the Jewish People open things up for you, or does it limit things?
This song emerged in Israel back in 2003, and together with a distinct critique of Israeli economics, it also offers a challenging chorus:
I too am like all the Jews
Busy with numbers 24/7/12 months
How many of the numbers mentioned in the song resonate with you?
How do you feel about the suggestion that being “busy with numbers” is what all Jews have in common?
If you were to write the chorus for yourself, how would you complete the line beginning: “I too am like all Jews…”
So how should we understand this idea of the Jewish People?
Avram Infeld is fairly clear on the matter…