“We have no other means of self-defense than our solidarity,” wrote physicist Albert Einstein in a letter to a NY Jewish philanthropist in June 1939, to express gratitude for his help to Jewish refugees who had managed to escape from the Nazis shortly before the outbreak of World War II. Today, as then, Jewish solidarity is the only way to combat antisemitism, but we seem not to have learned the lessons of the past, as division and internal strife prevail.
In Einstein’s thank you letter, recently released, the scientist addresses American businessman Fred Behr and shares with him his deep concern about the rise of Nazi rule in Europe and the impending danger to the Jews: “The power of resistance which has enabled the Jewish people to survive for thousands of years has been based to a large extent on traditions of mutual helpfulness. In these years of affliction our readiness to help one another is being put to an especially severe test.”
Much like antisemitism led to establish the State of Israel, today we are witnessing a sharp rise in antisemitic sentiment, both directly against Jews and disguised as delegitimization of Israel, in many countries – but especially in the United States and Europe. It is now imperative that we embrace the values of unity and mutual responsibility to guarantee our survival.
But today, these values have become less important in the eyes of most Jews, currently we are like a collection of separate groups – left versus right, religious versus secular, Ashkenazi versus Sephardic, to name just a few divisions -engaged in a constant struggle against each other.
Thus, in order to return to our united roots and re-establish ourselves as a united Jewish people, we must place our original values of unity and solidarity at the center of our common discourse. What would motivate us to reunite as a single nation?
Why is this even important? It is so because the alternative is extinction. Only a tightly knit model can guarantee our survival. As our sages put it, “All of Israel are each other’s guarantors [responsible for one another], meaning that when all are together, they see only good.” (A Broadcasting Voice). And as it is written in Shem MiShmuel, “When they [Israel] are as one man with one heart, they are as a fortified wall against the forces of evil.”
Solidarity and unity are the most important Jewish values, originally instituted by our Patriarch Abraham and his group some 3,800 years ago. Guided by these principles, this group became the “people of Israel” and learned to live harmoniously as one cohesive nation.
By following the principles of mutual responsibility and cohesion, we can strengthen bonds that transcend people, groups, factions, ages, and genders, and aim to unite all people, without exception, across all differences.
Moreover, by realizing such a vision, we will serve as a model for a perfect society of fulfilled and successful people who share the most important values of life – love and connectedness. As a result, the world will absorb the unifying atmosphere we project, and antisemitism in all its forms will subside.
1931 , San Diego , California : the physicist ALBERT EINSTEIN ( Ulm , Germany 1879 – Princeton , New Jersey 1955 )