By Emilie Tackett
“Oh, the weather outside is frightful,
But the fire is so delightful,
And since we’ve no place to go,
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.”
April Fools guys!
Or is it?
Fun factoid: This song was actually written by two Jews:
Sh-mu-ly Cohen and Julius Stein.But what if they never existed?
In today’s Haftarah, God doesn’t want the Jewish people to worry… though we are very good at that!
Rather God says, “Fear not, My servant Jacob…. Even as I pour water on thirsty soil, and rain upon dry ground, so will I pour My spirit on your offspring, My blessing upon your descendants. They shall sprout like grass, like willows by watercourses.”
God seems intent on keeping the Jews around.
But today I would like to ask a what-if question.
What if God did not give us a second chance? What if Judaism did not exist? And what if I wasn’t Jewish?
Oh my God… there wouldn’t be Challah.
But more than that, we might not be singing: Let it snow! Or any other Christmas songs for that matter.
Moreover, there would be no Christmas. Since Jesus was a Jew, if there weren’t any Jews, there wouldn’t be Jesus. So no Christianity… and probably no Islam either.
Without the Jews, the world would not be familiar with the important commandments from the Torah to love your fellow as yourself and to love God.
Would the world have the idea that we are all part of one human family made in the image of God?
And more importantly, would the world have Bubbies?
Also, we seem to have created the weekend…. You’re welcome, by the way.
Without the Jewish prophets, would the world have the idea that we must work together to make our world a better place?
And would we have the concept of Tikkun Olam – of fixing the world?
While 0.2% of the world’s population is Jewish, about 20% of the Nobel Prizes have been awarded to Jews. What if we weren’t there? … A lot of other scientists might be really happy!
The 2016 Nobel Prize winner for Literature was Robert Zimmerman. Who was Robert Zimmerman you might ask?
It was… Bob Dylan!
Like many Jews in showbiz, Robert Zimmerman felt he needed to change his name.
Have you heard of Allan Konigsberg, aka Woody Allen or Jonathan Stuart Leibowitz, aka Jon Stewart?
We are often afraid to be Jews because of our past.
The past has been... ihhhh, not so good for us.
The term Jew was not a compliment, but was used as an insult.
It was not the norm to be Jewish, and others couldn’t handle that.
So, while many Jews embraced their Jewish identity, others shied away from it. And some changed their names so they could fit in.
The same thing goes for today. Jews don’t always feel welcome, and some hide who they are. It’s not like we don’t get bomb threats.
There are certainly reasons why we might not want to say we are Jews.
But if we didn’t say we were Jews, then Judaism would be gone after a while. We would disappear.
Instead, God promises: “One shall say, ‘I am the Lord’s,’ and another shall be called by the name of “Jacob,” They shall write that they are for the Lord, and they shall be called by the name of Israel.”
What does that mean?
It means that we will embrace our Jewish identity.
God tells Isaiah that at some point, we will be proud to be Jewish… maybe making more Hanukkah songs and less Christmas songs.
I am proud to be a Jew, and to know that my ancestors fought for my right to stand here today.
A large part of my family never had the chance to have a Bat or Bar Mitzvah because they were either in Concentration Camps or in hiding.
So I feel that it’s my destiny to take advantage of this opportunity that they didn’t get to have.
I am proud to be Jewish, not only because they now make Kosher marshmallows.
I feel that Judaism is not just a religion; it is also a community. I love being part of this big family.
Even though I haven’t known each of you for my entire life… I still feel comfortable giving you criticism... or positive feedback.
Also, I don’t have to sit at the little kids table at Passover anymore. I can do more things at the service. I can be one of the people that goes up for an Aliyah… and then struggles with the blessings.
There are no more excuses anymore. I am no longer just a kid. Rather, I am a proud Jew and part of the Jewish family
Thank you all and Shabbat Shalom!