I just returned from a trip of a lifetime to Israel. My first trip was with BBYO when I was 16. The second was with Federation when I was 36. With each of these three trips, I have seen an Israel that is everchanging. The Israel of today is vastly different from the one I experienced at 16 or even at 36. The Israel that I experienced just a few weeks ago is more diverse, more dynamic, and more challenged. However, what I felt most strongly was its constancy; that is, the State of Israel both physically and symbolically represents the covenant between G-d and the Jewish people.
One of the highlights of my trip was the new Anu Museum which is located on the campus of Tel Aviv University. The Hebrew word, anu, means “we”. The choice of that word for the name of the museum represents its focus, which is to recognize both the unity and diversity of the Jewish people. Among the key takeaways of this trip was the Jewish people’s unity in diversity. In Nitzavim, last week’s Torah portion, Moses summons all of the people of Israel to stand together and bear witness, from the heads of the tribes to the lowly water carriers to even the strangers at the gate. Now, 5,783 years later, this is still a description of the Jewish people, whether in Israel or in the diaspora. For those of us who were born after the creation of the State of Israel in 1948, it is hard to believe that the existence of the Jewish state was not a foregone conclusion. Yet almost 2,000 years went by after the destruction of the Second Temple and the forced exile of the Jewish people into the diaspora.
The birth of the modern Jewish State was difficult and challenged. Many doubted its survival. Its existence was tenuous. Yet, like our ancestors who stood before Moses, Israel stands today and the Jewish people remain standing. In our own diverse Atlanta Jewish community, we have Jews of all proclivities. Yet despite our differences we stand united under the common umbrella of our common Jewish identity and the covenant that our ancestors embraced at Sinai. This is what I felt as I stood in the holy land just a few weeks ago.
Ray Alyssa Rothman is a commercial real estate veteran who helps raise equity for investments. Her side business is Kibbitz & Konnect, a premier in-person social network for Atlanta’s Jewish singles community (www.kibbitzkonnect.org).