Magazine article Moment

Why I Am a Jew

Magazine article Moment

Why I Am a Jew

Article excerpt

From the time I was a child in yeshiva until today, I have believed that the greatest problem confronting the Jewish people is the lack of rational and persuasive responses to the question, "Why should I be a Jew?"

So here are ten answers that have kept this Jew Jewish:

1. The Jews are the Chosen People. There is no other rational explanation for the centrality of the Jewish people in history and in the world today. Even anti-Semites--indeed, especially anti-Semites--recognize the pivotal role of this tiny group of people on the world stage. That is why "world Jewish conspiracy" is such a common phrase, while one never hears of "a world Chinese conspiracy" or any other group's "world conspiracy." If we are not the Chosen People, there is little compelling reason to raise one's children as Jews. After Auschwitz, and with significant parts of the Muslim world today advocating another Holocaust, it takes a powerful reason to do so.

2. Just as people need an instruction manual for a camera, they need an instruction manual on how to lead a good, holy and meaningful life. Judaism provides the best one ever written: the Torah.

3. The Torah is a divine document. No book comes close in influencing the world and changing the way human beings behave and think. "Divine" means that God is, ultimately, the Torah's author. Whether it was given all at once, whether it was dictated word for word, whether it was divinely edited from documents--none of that matters.

4. Understood properly and lived authentically, Judaism is a religion of moderation. Judaism's approach to animals, for example, teaches reverence for them to the point of including a day of rest for them in the Ten Commandments. Yet it also teaches that human life is infinitely more valuable: humans, not animals, are created in the image of God.

5. Judaism provides immense joy. No religion provides such continuous joy-filled moments as Judaism. I am referring to the weekly celebration of Shabbat and the frequent holidays. Every week I look forward to Shabbat in a way unknowable to non-Jews or Jews who do not celebrate the Sabbath.

6. Judaism provides meaning. What could be more meaningful than being chosen by God to bring humanity to Him and His moral values? Meaning is the greatest human need, even greater than sex. There are people who live without sex and yet lead happy lives. …

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