I learned a few days ago that this is designated as “Jewish Heritage Month.” And I asked myself, “What does that mean?”
Our Jewish heritage is our history that begins, we believe, with the ancient Israelites and eventually spread to every place in the world where Jews have lived and contributed greatly.
Our Jewish heritage is our experiences throughout history: our contributions to the societies in which our ancestors lived, even as they faced recurrent episodes of cruel anti-Semitism.
Our Jewish heritage is one of always choosing life over death, hope over despair, and ever-striving to contribute something good to the societies in which we were living, and live today.
Our Jewish heritage is a religion based upon ethical-monotheism: the belief there is One God of all humanity whom we serve and live through acts of kindness, righteousness, and justice. A religion that affirms that living with a sense of awe for all of existence is part of what we mean when we speak of faith and God.
Our Jewish heritage is a land known as Israel, and a people who call themselves both Israelis and Jews. Each of them, and each of us, share the historic hope and vision that “it is from Jerusalem that a message of peace will be spread throughout the world.”
Yes, our Jewish heritage is a rich one, and each of us has a cherished place in that living heritage. Not just this month, but all months, let us live with pride and worthy purpose as Jews, and let it be that we and all people will know a Sabbath of dignity, freedom and peace.