Go forth.

What a weird twist… to be exploring Jewishness and Israeliness and what this peoplehood means these days when it’s appearing more and more difficult to understand the meaning of what’s happening in the world… 

…during the week we read parshat Lech Lecha. 

What does it mean to pick up and leave something you know? Swept up in a swollen wave that grows with chaos, confusion, conflict. Some would call it the force of adulting, some would call it the character of the 21st century, maybe it really is just cyclical history, receding out, creeping in, receding out, creeping in. 

Picking up and leaving something you know – to go forth into something you don’t. That’s life. It catches up with you even if you grew up in the mightiest superpower of the 80s and 90s, especially if you did, since it’s all downhill from there. 

Maybe it’s not about decades or location but about picking up and leaving the childhood you know, to enter the complex sinister reality that is human adulthood. 

Picking up and leaving the place you know… can lead to better things. Bigger things. Discovery of who you are and where you’re really meant to be. That’s why I moved here. 

Picking up and leaving the things you know… go forth and cast your lot with your nation. Be a stranger no more, live in the land of my ancestors for it has been opened wide, accessible in a live-able way. 

Go forth and cast your lot with your nation, the safest place to be a Jew. 

Has the term Jew ever been so loaded? It was quite clear what it meant in 1938. It was clear over and over and over again for every calendar day we fast and lament or celebrate survival. 

What is a Jew? is very clear when others define it for us. 

Go forth and find your people. Join together and build something beautiful and whole. 

A Jewish society based on Torah values and derech eretz. Based on seeing the godliness in our image, on knowing we don’t quite know what that is but we know it’s there, and that’s enough. Based on love, on trust, on rising to meet the challenge of peoplehood. 

Based on shunning your converted, based on shunning your born-that-way neighbors, based on shunning your brothers and sisters of color, based on shunning your comrades who choose differently, based on shunning those who are ever-questioning, based on shunning the strangers living among us, who have done so since we were strangers ourselves. 

A Jewish people, a people of shunning. 

A Jewish people ripped apart in millions of pieces, its soul shivering in a dark corner as tears leave bloody streaks down its cheeks, the floor littered with pages ripped from a tanach, the pages are weeping, particular one page, particularly one line. 

Pick up and leave everything you know. Go forth and find something new, something yours, something ours, something generations will be proud of. Find a neighbor to comfort, a family who needs a meal, a person who probably doesn’t get many texts. Maybe they look like you, maybe they don’t. Maybe we’re all in god’s image, maybe we’re not, but the ties that bind us aren’t loosening anytime soon in this prisoner’s dilemma called modern day Israel. 

Go forth and find something new, something ours. A Jewish people, whole and soothed and loved, from actions taken, from tiny miniscule dust particles of goodness, grains of sand as far as the eye can see. 

Come. We’ll go forth. Maybe together we’ll find it when the dust settles. 

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