Start a blog

Blogs Zion's Corner

California Jews

By Tzvi Fishman
10/28/2007, 12:00 AM
Thousands of Jews have been left homeless as the once blissful, carefree California has erupted into a blazing inferno.  Even Chabad houses, the last line of defense of Diaspora Jewry, have been evacuated.
Towering Inferno
Here’s a news item depicting the tragedy of one of the Jewish victims.

NEW YORK (JTA) -- "I worked all my life for this house," Daniel Okonsky said in a call from his cell phone on Tuesday afternoon. "I was able to build it, to maintain it -- and now there is nothing."

"Why G-d, why?"

Okonsky was speaking from the Downtown Sheraton in San Diego, where he has been staying with his family since they evacuated their home Sunday at 3:30 a.m. in the face of wildfires that have ravaged southern California.
When he returned to his home Monday, there was nothing left.

He has notified his insurance company of the loss, but is not sure what will happen next. "I have never lived through something like this," he said. "I have no procedure to follow. It's not something you expect every day. You have a house where you raise a family and now there is nothing left."

In other news affecting the Jewish community, more than 20 Chabad centers in Southern California have been evacuated due to the raging fires around the region, said Rabbi Chaim Cunin, spokesman for the West Coast Chabad [end of news article].

Dear Daniel, Rabbi Cunin, and the Jews of California  – the people of Israel are with you in your sorrow. But as you contemplate the task of rebuilding, why waste your time rebuilding your lives in exile. Your tragedy will only happen again. Whether by fire, or earthquake, or persecution, or assimilation, the future of Diaspora Jewry is doomed. What point is there in rebuilding your houses and shuls in galut when you can build new homes and Chabad houses in Israel?
Why be satisfied with being a watcher on TV, on the other side of the world, when you can become a player down on the field in the Superbowl of our ongoing Redemption?

Just like a Chinaman belongs in China, and an Eskimo belongs in Alaska, a Jew belongs in Israel. Nowhere is South California, or Toronto, or Antwerpen mentioned in the Torah. Hashem told Avraham to go to Israel. He promised the Land to Yitzhak andYaacov. Our Forefathers lived there even though there were idol worshipping enemies in the Land. After a harsh exile in Egypt, Hashem told Moshe to bring the Jews home to Israel. All of the Torah comes to teach us that a Jew is to make the Land of Israel his home.

Brothers and sisters, don’t be like the Jews who wanted to remain in Egypt, slaves to a foreign culture, dreaming to be accepted by idol worshippers and engage in their pagan perversions. Remember what happened to them. They died in the plague of darkness, the darkness of swimming pools, and Volvos, and Jewish Federations.

Brothers and sisters, Judaism is more than gefilta fish and getting drunk at the weekly sumptuous Sabbath Kiddush, and going to the latest movie on Saturday night. Judaism is building a holy nation in the Land that G-d bestowed to the Jews. The choice is before you. You can rebuild your private houses and reconstruct your private swimming pools and private home Jacuzzis and gyms, or you can dedicate your lives to helping to rebuild the Jewish Nation in the Jewish Land and thus become an active player in the process of Redemption that is taking place across the sea. Why read about it altruistically on Arutz 7 when you can take an active part yourselves?

"Oh no, not the swimming pool too!"

Yes, there are dangers in Israel too. There were dangers when Hashem told Avraham to move here. There were dangers when Hashem commanded Moshe and Joshua to bring the Jews to Israel out of their bondage in Egypt, the California of that time.

Hashem tests us through dangers. He tests our faith in Him and our love for Him through the dangers we have to overcome, and through the sacrifices we have to make on His behalf. This is how he builds us into being His people. He doesn’t want one-day-a-week Jews, lovers of California six days a week, and lovers of Hashem on Shabbat. He wants us to love Him completely, with all of our hearts, with all of our souls, with all of our might, even more than we love our mansions, and swimming pools, and Cadillacs and shiksas. It isn’t enough to say, “In G-d we trust,” by stockpiling dollars in the bank and buying some Israel bonds. G-d wants us to trust in Him more than we trust in the dollar.

In G-d We Trust

So to all of the homeless David’s and Chabad rabbis, wherever you may be, when you gaze at the ruins of your exile dreams, be happy. The exile isn’t supposed to last forever. Step out of the darkness and see the light. Your future and the future of all the Jewish People is here, in Israel, just like in the days of our forefathers.

Bye Bye California

Why be satisfied with being a watcher on TV, on the other side of the world, when you can become a player down on the field in the Superbowl of our ongoing Redemption?