- Each video in this series makes the claim that it is the most important Jewish priority. Based on the video and your own thoughts, make a compelling case for why Jewish identity should be the most important priority within the Jewish world.
- The question of Jewish identity is national as much as it is personal. Since the inception of the State of Israel, there’s been much debate over the identity of the Jewish State. Some Jewish leaders believe that a Jewish state should mean a country with a Jewish majority, some believe that the country should be inspired by Jewish culture and tradition and some even believe that Israel should be governed by Jewish law. What do you think it should mean to be a “Jewish state”?
- There’s a famous Jewish joke that says that “anyone who’s less religious than me… well they’re not really Jewish. And anyone who’s more religious than me… well they’re just crazy.” If this is how many Jews think, then what is it that connects a Hassidic Jew in Brooklyn, New York with a secular Jew living in Tel Aviv? What are the commonalities held by all Jews?
- Through Israel’s Law of Return, anybody with a Jewish grandparent is eligible to make aliyah and become an Israeli citizen. Because of this law, thousands of people have immigrated to Israel who are not Jewish according to Traditional Halakha (of a Jewish mother or converted through conversion). How do you think Israel should define a Jew? Do you think Israel should be defining who is Jewish at all?
- Rabbi Jonathan Sacks wrote that throughout Jewish history, the more Jews suffered, the more they prayed, studied and kept the commandments. He writes that “the paradox is that the danger to Jewish continuity has been not slavery and suffering, but affluence and freedom.” Do you agree or disagree with this sentiment? How do you be proactively Jewish if you’re not afflicted in any way?
- Jewish philosopher Emil Fackenheim argued that there should be a 614th commandment (in addition to the 613 mitzvot) not to give Hitler a posthumous victory. He wrote:
“We are commanded, first, to survive as Jews, lest the Jewish people perish. We are commanded, second, to remember our very guts and bones the martyrs of the Holocaust, lest their memory perish. We are forbidden, thirdly, to deny or despair of God, however much we may have to contend with him or with belief in him, lest Judaism perish. We are forbidden, finally, to despair of the world as the place which is to become the kingdom of God, lest we help make it a meaningless place in which God is dead or irrelevant and everything is permitted.”
Whereas, during the Holocaust, the physical survival of the Jewish people was at stake, today there are different threats to Jewish continuity. What do you think is the biggest threat to the future of the Jewish people and how can we fight this threat?