Photo: Avishag Shaar-Yashuv
'In recent years, Jews in Israel have begun claiming ownership of their Jewish identity'
Photo: Avishag Shaar-Yashuv
Sallai Meridor

Judaism belongs to all of us

Op-ed: If we want a strong army, a growing economy, more immigration and a stronger Jewish connection to State of Israel, we must invest much more in state's moral, cultural and spiritual strength.

On the eve of the Shavuot holiday, tens of thousands of Jews and Israelis – including many secular and traditional Jews – will gather into the night and participate in Tikkun Leil Shavuot ("Rectification for Shavuot Night").



During the festival of the giving of the Torah, they will renew the ownership of their heritage. Like late Prime Ministers David Ben-Gurion and Menachem Begin in their weekly Bible study circles, they will study the Bible and Talmudic literature not just as mitzvah books but as national and cultural assets, as a historic story and as books of morality. They will think, argue and restore the rich spiritual heritage of their people.


This phenomenon, which has been given the name "Jewish renewal," has been growing immensely in recent years and is no longer a leisure experience but a significant and vital phenomenon like no other for Israel and the Jewish people.


The state's security strength depends not only on the weapons in its soldiers' hands, but largely on their motivation. The willingness to volunteer to combat units, to command soldiers, to enter career service, to stand up to fire in a battle and to embark on dangerous missions beyond enemy lines is not obvious.


In order to favor the concern for all over private interests, in order to overcome the fear facing the danger of death, it takes a very significant commitment to the Jewish and Israeli existence. Planes and tanks will not be enough to protect our home. As fighters were told following the huge victory in the Six-Day War: "Man is the steel, and the armor is only metal."


The state's economic strength depends on its young and talented entrepreneurs staying in Israel and not leaving for Silicon Valley. The more the Israeli economy improves, there will always be better opportunities to make money and enjoy a better material quality of life in other countries.


In order for the Israeli economy's engines to choose to give up on more money and stay in Israel, in order for them to prefer to raise their children here of all places, they must be given an opportunity for Zionist Jewish development and not just technological scientific development.


Another Israeli component of strength is the Jewish people. The world's Jews extend our shoulders in the international arena, create bridges for Israeli exports and strengthen our image of deterrence. An Israel with modern Israeli Jewish creation, where young people feel a connection and commitment to the broad Jewish family, will serve as a source of identity, identification and inspiration and an object for support.


In recent years, Jews in Israel have begun claiming ownership of their Jewish identity. Thousands of people – in military preparatory programs, in modern houses of study, in mixed communities, in mission-driven groups and in cultural creation – are conveying a huge message: Judaism belongs to all of us, each in his own way. it is both our past and our future.


Young parents want their children to have a modern and relevant Jewish opportunity in the educational system, because it is important for them that Judaism will belong not only to their parents but also to their children.


The discussions on the state budget for the coming year are beginning these days. There are likely difficult arguments about security, welfare and economy. If we want a strong army, a growing economy, less emigration and more immigration and a stronger connection between the Jewish people and the State of Israel, we must invest much more in the state's moral, cultural and spiritual strength.


Sallai Meridor, a former Israeli ambassador to the US and Jewish Agency chairman, serves as chairman of the Shearim association for Jewish renewal.


פרסום ראשון: 06.03.14, 16:53
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