As the sunset approaches on this 6th day of September 2002, Jews worldwide will begin to celebrate yet another new year. This one being 5763 in our calendar. Christianity has been with the world for just under 2,000 years, while Islam has been with the world for about 1,400 years. Yet; as far as much of the world is concerned, Judaism is an illegitimate religion that must cease to exist, even though it is the foundation of both other religions.
Israel’s first unified government was founded some 3,000 years ago under the leadership of King David, in his capital city of Hebron. More than 2000 years after the foundation and establishment of the Jewish people.
From 1936 till 1945, the Nazis, who were aided and abetted by many who preferred to remain anonymous, did their best to eradicate Jews from Europe. And they came very close with the murder of 6,000,000 men, women and children. But, close only counts in horseshoes. And in spite of the Nazis’ best efforts, enough European Jews survived to maintain a presence.
Even after the war and the Holocaust, and after the entire world became aware of the human tragedy caused to the Jews, Jews were still denied their place on this planet. And instead of helping the survivors of the worst ethnic genocide that has ever been perpetrated upon mankind, the world interned the Jews in yet more camps, while they tried to figure out what to do with the unwanted survivors of the Nazis and their collaborators.
Canada’s policy was clear in terms of Jewish immigration before, during and after the war: “NONE IS TOO MANY”.
By the turn of the 20th century, in the early 1900’s, the Zionist movement was well on its way to create a Jewish state. And by 1901, the Jewish National Fund was created in Bern Switzerland for the purpose of buying land with which to “reestablish” a Jewish state in the ancestral and historical homeland of the Jewish people in the Middle East.
The belief within the Zionist movement, was that the time had finally arrived when Jews of the Diaspora could finally come home to a country where they will be able to live in freedom and security. Where there would be no threats of Pogroms, Inquisitions and a Holocaust. But sadly, they were wrong. The threats prevailed and have never stopped.
In spite of everything the Jews of this world have contributed to mankind, and in spite of all the hardships and mistreatment Jews have had to endure throughout the ages, Jews would be no safer in Israel than they were (are) anywhere else in the world. With a fundamental exception.
This time, Jews no longer depend upon the good-will of the rest of the world to protect them. Even though Israel is a very small country with a Jewish population of about 5,000,000 people, it is a small country that is determined to survive, in spite of whatever else the rest of the world might think.
As I write this piece, and prepare for our traditional Rosh Hashana evening and supper, the entire world is being threatened by an Islamist scourge which believes that everything Israeli, Jewish and American is evil. Not to mention Christians, Western cultures and modernity. Given the opportunity, these people would not hesitate to finish off the remaining 13,000,000 Jews worldwide and try to usurp the secular democracies.
But I have faith. Not just in Israel’s military might or Judaism’s best friend in the USA. I have faith in history. Jews have survived as a nation and a culture for 5763 years, in spite of countless efforts to wipe us and the Jewish gene pool from the face of this world. And tonight is a testament and celebration of this determination to survive, and to continue.
As a Jew living in North America, I am proud of our culture’s many contributions to the worldwide community in the sciences, arts, humanities and commerce. And more than anything, I look forward to the Jewish community continuing this tradition of contributing.
And the fact that we have been around for 5763 years in spite of everything, gives me confidence, that no matter what the near future has in store for the world, and for Jews in particular, we will be around next year as well.
And the year after that, and the years after that too. The proof is in the history.
To all of my Jewish and non Jewish friends. And to all people who strive towards decency, I wish you the following: “L’shanah tovah tikatev v’taihatem”. Which means: “May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year” .