I am teaching a high school class about threats to Judaism in the modern world. What do you see as the biggest threat to Jewish survival - assimilation or anti-Semitism?
The biggest threat to Jewish survival is confused Jewish identity. Sadly, today in many Jewish schools and families, Jewish identity is built through teaching Holocaust awareness and a fear of marrying out. The Jewish community's preoccupation with assimilation and anti-Semitism is not the solution, it is the problem.
A pessimistic and negative presentation of being Jewish turns off young Jews more than anything else. When we obsess about anti-Semitism we paint ourselves as perpetual victims. When we over-emphasise the threat of assimilation, it makes us feel like an endangered species. The Jews are alongside the hump-back whale and the giant panda in the list of helpless and pitiful communities disappearing from the planet. Is it so surprising that young Jews are opting out of Judaism? Who wants to be a victim?
We have to stop defining ourselves by the way others perceive us. Assimilation is when non-Jews love us so much they want to marry us. Anti-Semitism is when non-Jews hate us so much they want to kill us. They both just happen to us; but what do we think of ourselves?
We need a clear and positive reason to stay Jewish. Failing that, why should Judaism survive? Is there a good argument for not assimilating into the welcoming societies surrounding us? Is there a compelling reason to stay proudly Jewish in the face of anti-Semitism?
I think there is.
Judaism is the most powerful idea that the world has ever seen. Jews should survive because we have a message that the world needs to hear.
The Jewish way of life is a revolutionary force that can transform ordinary lives into lives of meaning. A family that keeps Shabbos is always reminded of what is really important - that there is more to life than accumulating wealth. The Kosher laws teach us that we are not mere animals that must feed our every urge and desire, and that eating itself can be holy. A Mezuzah on the door tells the world that this home is built for a higher purpose.
Judaism teaches lessons that the world urgently needs to learn - that every individual person is created in the image of G-d, and is therefore unique and valuable; that morality is not relative but absolute; that humans are partners with G-d in creation, with a mission to create heaven on earth.
These bold Jewish ideas are more relevant now than ever. But bold Jewish ideas need bold Jewish people to perpetuate them. The world can only be elevated if individuals first elevate themselves. We can only make the world into a divine home if we start with our own home. This is Judaism's formula to change the world for better. This is why we must stay Jewish.
The biggest threat to Judaism is not external pressure but rather internal confusion. When we lose sight of our mission, we lose the strength and stamina to survive. The Jewish feeling we need to develop in ourselves and our children is not fear of anti-Semitism, or guilt about assimilation. It is a humble pride in the greatness of the Jewish mission and confident resolve to fulfil it. When we are clear about our identity, no threat in the world can shake us.
Please send any names you would like mentioned at Yizkor to firstname.lastname@example.org. It is our custom to use the Hebrew name and the mother's Hebrew name of the departed. If these are not known, English names are fine.
It is customary to make a donation for the recitation of the memorial prayer in memory of the deceased. This elevates their souls to higher places of rest by doing a good deed in their memory. Yizkor Donations can be easily be made by clicking on the button below:
You can also write the names you would like recited in the notes section instead of emailing us.
BIRTHDAYS, ANNIVERSARIES, YARZHEITS
We last collected details for our database in 5770 (2010).If you would like to provide us with any Yahrzeit, birthday or anniversary information please email THIS FORM to email@example.com with names and dates.
If you don't know the Hebrew date, the Nefesh office can look it up for you- just remember to write the year and specify the time as 'before' or 'after' sunset. E.g 23 July 1978 after sunset.
During the year Nefesh will send a reminder to you before upcoming Yahrzeits and Hebrew Birthdays or Anniversaries.
SERVICES AT NEFESH ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Shabbos Service 6:00pm followed by Kiddush in honour of birthdays of late Ellen and Ralph Schuftan, sponsored by their children and grandchildren - Judi, Anthony, Jordan, Rafael and Ethan
Class - The Spiritual Parsha 9am
Morning Service 10am -12:20pm followed by Kiddush in honour of the barmitzvah of Sender Dyce - Mazal Tov!
Mincha 5:25pm followed by Seudah Shlishis and Maariv
Shabbos ends 6:28pm
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday Shachris 7am
NEFESH HIGH HOLYDAYS SERVICES
Services start and end at different times at Swiss Grand and at Roscoe St Shul
For Swiss Grand, please use entrance on Campbell Parade. We are in the Reef Room on street level just inside the entrance. Please do not walk through hotel lobby
Kids program is in the room opposite the services. Only children booked into the Kids program are authorized to join. We cannot take any responsibility for children not booked in.