הרב הרצוג ז"ל
הרב הרצוג ז"ל צילום: הנס פין, לע"מ

Today, the 19th of Tammuz, we commemorate the legacy of the late Rabbi Yitzchak Isaac Halevi Herzog. Rabbi Herzog served as the Chief Rabbi of Irish Jewry and then the Chief Rabbi of the Land of Israel and the State of Israel. We cannot elaborate here on all his activities, but there is one famous journey Rabbi Herzog has made, from which we can learn from.

In 1946, after the Holocaust in which six million of our people were murdered by the Nazis and their collaborators, the rabbi set out on a journey to return Jewish children to their homes from the monasteries where they were hidden. Innocent orphans, with almost no memories from their previous lives.

When he reached one of the monasteries, he tried to persuade the children to come home, but no one responded. Maybe because they were too young to remember anything from their parents, or maybe they were too afraid to leave the monastery. Just before he left, Rabbi Herzog cried loudly: ''Shema Yisrael Hashem Elokeinu Hashem Echad''. When they heard him, many burst into tears. Apparently, it was that memory of reading Shema Yisrael before sleep with their parents that ignited the Jewish candle, buried so deeply inside them.

Over the last year, as the Minister of Diaspora Affairs, I have learned a lot about the current situation of world Jewry. There are more than 8 million Jews who live abroad. Unfortunately, we are seeing a growing trend of weakening in Jewish identity and connection to the Jewish legacy. We still cannot reach every Jewish student around the world.

As we commemorate the memory of Rabbi Herzog today, we must uphold his legacy. We must act in every way to reach every Jew, even in the most distant places in the world.

Rabbi Yisrael Salanter has already said: "As Long As The Jewish Candle Is Still Burning, it is possible to work and to repair''. The embers of Judaism lie within the hearts of every Jew in the world. We cannot give up even on one member of our people.

May the memory of Rabbi Herzog be blessed.

Omer Yankelevich is the former Diaspora Affairs Minister of Israel.