Israel Forever

For the week ending 13 March 2004 / 20 Adar I 5764

Are We Still Jewish?

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

How low can Jews sink?

This weeks Torah portion seems to supply the answer in its account of Jews dancing around a golden calf in the Sinai desert where they had received the Torah a little over a month before.

That party ended up with the smashing of the Holy Tablets which Moshe brought down from Heaven. Last month there was another party in modern Israel which did not have such a dramatic climax but did leave at least one of its revelers wondering whether he and his friends were Jewish any more.

Hundreds of partygoers had gathered in the desert on Shabbat for a "trance party" which ended up with their dancing around a huge golden calf. "When I saw the calf standing on the stage," said 35-year old Elad, "I stopped dancing. I was simply stunned. I am admittedly not a traditionally religious person, but the organizers crossed a red line. The statue made us look like idol worshippers."

Despite the protest of Elad and some others, the organizers refused to remove the statue. "Of course we refuse to remove it," said one of them, "because it seems absurd that people who go out partying on Friday nights and Saturdays are bothered by the Bible."

To the question raised by Elad about whether we are still Jewish, we submit the following story. Former Tel Aviv Mayor Shlomo ("Chich") Lahat recently told a friend of ours that back in 1946, two years before the founding of the State, there was a meeting of Zionist leaders in Nahalal at which Dr. Chaim Weizmann, the man who would become the first president of the Jewish State, made the following prediction:

"We are talking about a Jewish State but I am afraid that this is a contradiction in terms. If it will be really Jewish it wont be a State, and if it will really be a State it wont be Jewish."

We dont share that gloomy prediction. Despite all the golden calf worshippers, the fact that some Jews like Elad reacted the way they did offers a ray of hope for a truly Jewish State in Israel forever.

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