Being in exile for two thousand years changed a lot of things about the Jewish people. It changed the way we speak, the way we dress, and even the way we look. Fortunately, after restoring Jewish independence for the first time in two millennia, we’ve also managed to restore the fundamentals of our true Semitic heritage. Most importantly, we brought back Hebrew as our national language. Even Theodor Herzl, the founder of the Zionist movement, didn’t think we could do that. He thought that once we restored our independence, we would still be using languages like Yiddish, German, Russian and so forth. Thank goodness he was wrong and that Israel did not turn out to be just another outpost of the Jewish Diaspora. Unfortunately, however, there are some Israelis who still don’t accept the reality that the era of Jews as homeless wanderers is over. They prefer to perpetuate the exile.
The Haredim, whom I spoke of in my recent blog, Haredi Extremists: Israel’s Enemy Within, are masters at perpetuating the Jewish exile, even when they live in Israel. They still wear the same medieval garb that their ancestors wore in the shtetls of Europe. In fact, if you’ve seen the neighbourhoods in which they live, as I have, you would think that they were still living in the shtetl, or in one of Europe’s old Jewish ghettos. Worst of all, they refuse to speak Hebrew amongst themselves and use Yiddish instead. Yiddish is the ultimate symbol of the Jewish exile and should have no place in Israel, other than as a source of slang. So if these Haredim want to continue dressing like they did in Poland and speaking Yiddish as they did in Europe’s shtetls and ghettos, I would suggest that they go back and live in the Diaspora. Israel is a country for Yehudim, not Yids.
Moreover, any Jews who want to make Israel their permanent home should at least have the decency to take Hebrew names. No Jew who lives in Israel should be walking around its streets with a name like Finkelstein. And even more importantly, if you’re going to live in the land, you have to learn the language. The fact that I speak better Hebrew than some people who have been living in Israel for years is absolutely disgusting. Unless you have some sort of learning disability, you have no excuse for not learning the language. So either learn it, or get out!
Now I’m sure that by now, you probably want to tell me that I’m a hypocrite because I don’t have a Hebrew name and I’m writing this in English rather than Hebrew. If I was living in Israel, you would be absolutely right. But of course, I’m not living in Israel. Not yet anyway. So I make this pledge to everyone reading this that if I ever do make Israel my permanent residence, I will practice what I preach. I will take a Hebrew name and become fluent in the Hebrew language to the point where I can write my blogs in it. I sincerely hope that every Jew who wants to live in Israel or who already lives there makes the same pledge.