On Monday a Jewish cemetery was desecrated in Germany by five teenagers. And while they claimed that they did not know that this old cemetery was filled with Jewish graves, the episode is yet another reminder of a world in which anti-Semitism is on the rise.
Prime Minister Netanyahu declared publically to the Jews of France, Belgium and the Ukraine: “Come to Israel. This is your home.” I’m sure that he had us and all Jews in mind also. And so when I heard those words did I feel great discomfort. I thought to myself: “America is my home.” Israel may be the place where my spiritual roots grew and blossomed. And even as I have a deep attachment, if not love, for the land and people of Israel, I am not an Israeli, I am an American who is Jewish by religion, by ancestry, and by heritage.
Centuries ago, at a time when Jewish loyalties were being questioned, Napoleon convened a court of Jewish notables in France. They were to address and respond to the question: “Are the Jews in our midst loyal to France, or do you embrace other values and ideals that preclude such loyalty?”
I thought of that ordeal when I heard Prime Minister Netanyahu’s call. Yes, this is a tenuous time for Jews throughout our world. We hear of “episodes” all too frequently, and we know that there is an ugly spirit in the air in too many places. But even as I affirm that “I am a proud Jew,” I also affirm that “I am a proud American” who plans to remain in this country, and help this country and this world to become better than is the reality at the present time.
Yes, ours is a universal promise. Ours is a universal vision of light prevailing where there is darkness.