Monday, December 9, 2013

A Monumental Waste of Time

The bearded men do it all the same.

They shuffle in nervously, survey their audience, and take a deep breath before delivering their pitch. They speak of the closeness to the students, of the freedom their institution so graciously grants, of the array of opportunities afforded.

Some try to be more persuasive by acknowledging the routine nature of these visits. They think they're clever when they skip the logistics and get down to "what really makes their Yeshiva unique." I appear involved, but what they don't know is that I'm carefully observing, almost studying, the wall behind them. It's not that they're entirely uninteresting, although some of them are dreadfully boring, but it's that the very essence of their institutions reminds me of what I've been robbed of.

I've been told that, in order to develop a connection strong enough to keep me in Judaism, I must go to Yeshiva for a year. I've been told that, in order to have the skills for lifelong learning, I must go to Yeshiva for a year. I've been told that, in order to really delve into the deep philosophical questions that perplex each and every Jew, no matter how devout, I must go to Yeshiva for a year.

Well, what the hell have I been doing for the past four years? Wasting my time, evidently. How saddening. Infuriating, really. It would have been so nice had my institution done enough to ensure a lifelong passion for Judaism in, you know, the twelve years I've been here. But, it's become abundantly clear that high school is merely a launching pad for something more.

What the hell have I been doing for the past four years.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Coveted Daughter

Her parents had dedicated their lives to ensuring that one day she would be, but their efforts seemed futile. They had been wanderers, struggling to keep their heads afloat, doing all that they could to not live, but to survive. They had been good people, people dedicated to humanity, people dedicated to the ideals of Democracy, people dedicated to birthing something that would continue their legacy. But, no matter the immensity of their dedication, they were continually opposed, oppressed, and subjugated.

But they did not relent when confronted with opposition, with oppression. Though it was widely considered impossible, they refused to relinquish hope, for they were sure that God was with them. They had always been Godly people, though, as is the same for all Godly people, there were times in their lives when they struggled, when they sinned. Some transgressions were worse than others, and therefore warranted a greater punishment, but they always found their way back to His hands.

And, though their faith was unwavering, it was equally perplexing. It was exceedingly evident that they had little reason to harbor such reverence for a God who time and again allowed the jeopardization of their existence. They prayed and hoped and wished and longed for, but their genuine pleas were ignored. They were successful people, but, for as long as they were being ignored, there was a void in their lives. They had nothing to call their own; nothing to eternalize their existence.

But, one day, she was born in the midst of tragedy, a byproduct of guilt, and a gift of sympathy.

It seemed as though the stars had aligned for her parents, that they could finally be satisfied, feel fulfilled. However, just as soon as she was given life, it was nearly stripped of her. But she persevered. The unwavering persistence of her parents had created an innate element of hope, of courage, within her. She refused to let her life slip away.

Throughout her life, she was oppressed just as her parents once were. At every turn a new enemy was waiting, yearning to extinguish her hope. But, with the spirit of her ancestors rooted within her, she found the strength to elevate to greatness. She became a beacon of hope for her people. She became something tangible that they could connect to. She became our heritage.

In 1948, she, Israel, was born in the midst of tragedy, a byproduct of guilt, and a gift of sympathy. And now, at 65, she has exceeded expectations and become something great, something worthy of pride, something we should never fail to appreciate.

She is our home. She is our connection. She is worthy of our defense, of our undying support, and our passionate love.

עם ישראל חי