This was the question that began the most recent Adult B’nei Mitzvah session. After the first few students answered, I began to notice a pattern: each student’s moment of greatest Jewish pride was associated with Israel! One student described that the moment when she felt the most pride in her Jewish identity was when Israel sent emergency teams to Haiti after the earthquake in 2010. While larger, wealthier, and more powerful countries also sent aid to the Caribbean island, Israel was one of the earliest on the scene and made the greatest impact in the rescue effort. When I saw the first images of the rescue and relief effort in Haiti I will never forget the pride I felt seeing the Star of David on the shoulder patches of aid workers amidst the tragedy after the earthquake. Even though there are no Israeli citizens in our Adult B’nei Mitzvah class, many of the participants felt that when Israel succeeds, Jewish people all over the world swell with pride.
IsraAID is the name of the organization that is at the center of this life-saving work. They have been on the ground in Haiti and in 46 other countries providing medical care, education, job training, access to clean water, mental health counseling, and the list goes on. Through our partnership with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), we have a rare opportunity to meet with and hear from the Co-CEO of IsraAID, Yotam Polizer. Mark your calendars today, register here, and join me at Temple Emanu-El on Sunday, December 9th from 10:30–12:00 to hear about the incredible work Jews and Israelis are doing around the world. Feel that Jewish pride, and meet one of the leaders at the forefront of this life-saving work.
I am most proud to be Jewish when I think of the work that the Jewish people have done and continue to do to save the lives of millions. Our Sages teach us that there is no greater mitzvah (commandment) than to save a life. According to our tradition, even if we were to save only one life, it is as though we have saved an entire world. I can’t wait to see you there for this special opportunity.