Israel’s Minister of Diaspora Affairs, Omer Yankelevich, is promoting a proposal that will obligate the Israeli government to consult representatives of World Jewry on matters relating to them before making decisions. The idea, although essentially correct, highlights the chasm separating Israel from the Jews outside of Israel.
Before we make any decisions, we need to get to know each other. How can I make a decision concerning other people if I don’t know how they live, what they aspire for, how they make a living, or what they aspire for? Jews have been disconnected from each other in the Diaspora for nearly 20 centuries. If previously, religion kept some sort of similarity among Jews at least in prayer books and services, today even that aspect is gone. As far as their Judaism is concerned, there is nothing in common between American Jews, for instance, and Russian Jews or Israeli Jews. They are literally worlds apart.
For this reason, I think that if we want to rebuild the connection among Jews, we have to do it not through religion or relation to the State of Israel, which has become a contentious matter for many Jews, but through the ideology of Judaism, namely the idea of mutual responsibility.
If there is one motto that Jews the world over relate to, it is Tikkun Olam [correction of the world]. While each denomination interprets the term differently, there is consensus that hate is not part of Tikkun Olam. Therefore, this is where we must begin, with the acceptance that even if we disagree with one another to the point of hatred, we do not let hatred take over, but rise above it and form unity. King Solomon said about this, “Hate stirs strife, and love will cover all crimes” (Prov. 10:12). In other words, we do not deny our ill feelings toward each other, but raise the importance of love above it all.
Why is this important? Because by doing so, we set an example of Tikkun that the world will see. In rising above our hatred, we will help the world correct by setting an example. No other nation is expected to do this but the Jews, and the internal rift between us is on everyone’s minds (just read the news headlines). Therefore, if we unite and show the opposite example, it will prove that it is possible to rise above hatred and will set an example that other people will follow.
We don’t need to teach Tikkun Olam; we only need to set a good example. If we want to mend Israel’s relations with the Diaspora Jews, this should be our focus.
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