What is wrong with us? Why don't Jews believe in our most fundamental claim to the land of Israel? Yes, I'm talking about the Bible. G-d gave the land to the Jewish people.
So many times, I have had leaders of Jewish student groups warn me before I address their audiences, "Don't use the Biblical claim; it turns them off." I tend to ignore these warnings and make the same presentation that I would to any other group. But I have to ask - why is it that of all people, 'Davka' Jews are so reluctant to accept this most basic point of the Jewish national connection to the land of Israel?
Next Shabbat, Jews around the world will read the weekly Torah portion which tells of our father Avraham, who heard the voice of G-d. HaShem said to Avraham, "Lech Lecha." Go out from your father's home to a land that I will show you. Avraham reaches Shechem-Elon Moreh, and the land of Canaan is promised to his sons forever. Had the Jewish people not retained a special connection with this same land throughout the ages, how would we have decided, from a worldwide diaspora, to regroup and return to this land?
How ironic is it that new research by the Pew Research Center shows that in percentage and numbers, more American Christians than Jews believe that G-d gave the land of Israel to the Jews? While only 40% of American Jews believe that G-d gave the land of Israel to the Jews, 44% percent of all American Christians do believe that. In some Christian dominations, the numbers are even higher and reach as high as 82%. Converting those figures to real numbers will show us that some 2 million American Jews believe in the Biblical claim, but some 102.5 million Christians feel that Israel is G-d's gift to the Jews.
Israel's most basic claim to its own homeland should be a shared value that American Jews feel comfortable supporting. With over one hundred million Americans sharing this belief, I hope that American Jews can realize our own national heritage and not feel too intimidated to quote the Bible when stating the right of the Jewish people to a sovereign state in the biblical homeland, Israel.