In the same way that my skin is white, my eyes green and my hair red – I am also Jewish. This is an unchangeable fact that I do not control. Being Jewish means that I am burdened with being thoughtful in my action. The way I am today is judged, in my mind, through the eyes and lives of my ancestors. Some of those ancestors were more observant than others of Jewish ritual practices but all made a point of being part of the nation.
Being Jewish compels me to behave ethically, in the same way that staying away from the sun is a must due to my fair complexion. My morals, heritage and communal history command me to make ethical choices in this world:
– Support the State of Israel, be active in society
– Raise my family as secular & Jewish in Israel
– Work to make the world a better place
– Act in an ethical manner daily, question myself daily
By doing all of these things I gain a sense of satisfaction by knowing that I am living to be the person my ancestors would approve of. I believe that people are not born as a clean slate, history, community and language forge him into the person they are today. By not shying away from my heritage I am able to focus not on reinventing myself, but learning from the errors of the past and improving the present. One day my children will improve upon my errors.
My reliance on the experience of my ancestors and the traditions they upheld comes from a sense of humility. My forefathers accomplished great feats under dire circumstances and did not flinch – in today’s post-modern mix and match world I feel that straying away from their chosen path would be vain and disrespectful.
The Jewish tribe is open to all those who wish to pass its gates and I welcome the diversity that a modern nation needs. Once joining all must remember that as a nation we share a common goal: fixing the world, which requires in turn a devotion to ethical behaviour. Being Jewish requires above all else that one behaves in an ethical manner. The greatest embarrassment I felt as an adult was with the triumphant press releases of Israel being the 4th largest weapons exporter in the world. Second to that is every single story involving unethical or criminal behaviour by Jews or Israelis.
Despite that, as a nation, I take pride in our exemplary ethical record which is one of the best in the world – considering the extremely difficult conditions inflicted upon our nation. Like any nation we have much to improve and having the State of Israel, we have a home in which we can work on perfecting the Jewish nation – for the benefit of all mankind.
While not religious in any way shape or form I can recall myself as teenager talking to my father, excited about a business opportunity. He listened carefully and responded without hesitating or by running me down – “that’s an excellent idea, but from a moral perspective it’s hardly like working on a cure for cancer, is it?” That to me is how a Jew should think, religious or not, rich or poor – just focus on the ethical, all else is irrelevant.
May there peace in our time, amen ~ Nico Black