We are not Jews without G-d

When God chose us to be His people, He did not suddenly elevate us above humanity. On the contrary, He made us, in some ways, even more human, even more vulnerable. Look for Him.

Helena Hawkins, | updated: 20:26

Judaism Clouds

Several months ago, in the wake of the attack on Chabad of Poway, I watched an outpouring of support from different communities, and my fellow Jews taking a strong stand against antisemitism with statements like “This won’t stop us” and “They won’t beat us.” While powerful statements like these can be touching and are certainly admirable, I couldn’t help but wonder where God is in all of this.

I see people screaming to the world, over and over again, that we will not let them beat us. “Never again” is the popular slogan proclaimed by those who say the Holocaust will never happen again - and we must be on guard to prevent it. But saying, “Never again” means nothing if it is not backed up by genuine action, and the obvious trend is that no one will actually lift a finger to prevent such an atrocity.

In fact, many people are now leaping at the chance to exacerbate the issues that led to the Holocaust in the first place. We aren’t seeing a decrease in antisemitism; we are seeing an enormous increase. Acts of antisemitism have skyrocketed in the United States, and we are seeing rates of attacks that have never before been seen here.

When I hear “Never again,” and when I see, “They won’t beat us,” I see a critical element missing: God. I’ve been scanning the posts on social media, and I’ve largely been disappointed to see that many of these supposed displays of strength are devoid of any mention of God. 

On the contrary, we reference our own past; we applaud ourselves on our continuity as the Jewish people despite war, persecution, and genocide. We are ostensibly relying on our own vitality, with nary a peep about God. We, as a people, have become so entrenched in our history, crying from our collective pain as a people, and now must face freshly laid burdens of antisemitism after enduring centuries of oppression and murder. Our cries are not unjustified. 

And yet, like we seem to do over and over again, we are forgetting to seek our God, and we are forgetting to say that He, the God of our fathers, the God who took us out of Egypt, is the only source of strength and unity among us, the only reason we are a people.

We are not Jews without God. And try as one might, we cannot ignore the fact that God made us His people, His light unto the nations, His bride, for a reason. We cannot be “one nation” without Him. We cannot even be existent without Him! 

We have had, since the beginning of time, a problem with emunah, faith. I can talk about Adam and Chava, but instead I’ll point to our history as the newly minted Israelite nation: right after we received the first taste of the Torah at Har Sinai, given to us by God Himself - and this after He had performed unprecedented miracles to take us out of Egypt - we turned around and created an idol, a golden calf. Time and time again, we have been guided by God and we have scorned His guidance. We have been too easily led astray. 

The truth is, when God chose us to be His people, He did not suddenly elevate us above humanity. On the contrary, He made us, in some ways, even more human, even more vulnerable. And yet, having said that, God blessed us with an even greater capacity for holiness than the other nations. The flipside of this is that it makes us much more prone to weakness.

We learn from the Tanach that God is very direct with us. Although we no longer have prophets to relay His messages to us, He continues to speak to us through every possible means, and as we see in the texts, He doesn’t mince words with us. He has not cut off the line of communication; it may not be as clear and direct as a message from His own mouth, but for a clearly worded message, all one must do is return to his roots and read the Tanach. There, we will find that He is still speaking.

The Tanach is as applicable now as it was then. Listen to it. Pay attention to the “still, small sound” (1 Kings 19:12). 

God does not seem to be speaking in a small voice anymore. It seems to me that He has been calling to us, and that call is becoming a yell. If you are paying attention, You’ve heard His voice for a long time.

And if you haven’t been?

Now is the time to listen.