Thursday, June 21, 2007
Wearing a Star by Rabbi Moshe Kempinski
About two years ago a young man walked into our shop in the Old City of Jerusalem. He had come with the Birthright Israel program on his first trip to Israel.
The Birthright Israel Program was created by its founders as a project to send thousands of young Jewish people from across the Diaspora, for a visit, home, to Israel. Their purpose was to strengthen the bond between the Jewish people and their ancestral home, and to cultivate in these young people a spark and linkage with their people. The results have been very encouraging. A spark that was kindled on these trips has become a flame strong enough to warm others.
This young man had never been to Israel before and his eyes reflected the wonderment of discovery. He was amazed at how with one glance he was able to glimpse past present and future, together, in this incredible land. He explained that he was returning to his studies in the University and that he was looking for a silver star of david. He wanted the biggest one I could find for him.
He put it on, almost ceremoniously, smiled and walked into his future.
Two weeks ago he came back for another visit to Israel. He looked at me held his Magen David in his hand and said "Do you remember me?" I told him that I was very happy to see him and asked how his university years had been. He responded that it was getting tougher and tougher to be a Jew in some of these campuses. "But", he said "This Magen David remained outside of my shirt... proudly!" He then told me that he was in Israel for two months to study Judaism in one of the outreach programs in the Old City. The Magen David that had been hanging so proudly on his chest had penetrated into his heart. The Jewish heart
he had been wearing eternally became the inflamed Jewish soul that was burning within.
But he is not alone. The Jewish people are seeing a rennaissance of Jewish commitment and passion that rivals the years
following the re-unification of Jerusalem in 1967. The Jewish people are coming home, both physically and spiritually and that return seems to be spearheaded by the young.
Last week Birthright was back again with thousands of young people. One group was from the midwest of the United States spent a long time in the shop. In the midst of the discussion I asked one of the young women what this trip to Israel "did for her".
She responded, 'that I walk through these streets, I stand in front of the Kotel, and even when I am sitting outside here drinking coffee ... I am overwhelmed with a desire to want to just get up and scream that I am a Jewish woman and I am damn proud of it."
When she finished her words, the room became silent. Everyone then broken into a smile and one of the guys raised a thumbs up, while one of the girls gave her a long hug.
I wiped a tear.
This pendant of a young girl clutching a Star of David is from Artazia- a perfect gift for the young woman (or bat mitzvah girl) in your life who is proud to show the world she is a Jew.
Shabbat Shalom. I hope you enjoyed this star-filled week of Judaica. Next week the forecast is a little damp. See you Monday.