Martine Alperstein

Breaking The Barriers

In every situation there is a lesson to be learnt. The holocaust was beyond horrific. It was and still is. Hitler was the epitome of evil, of everything inhuman, inhumane and indecent. But the one thing that Hitler got right, is that a Jew is a Jew. And that is the lesson to be learnt.

The most heartbreaking reality of making aliyah, was the realization that Jews despise Jews, Jews judge Jews, Jews discriminate between Jews and Jews alienate Jews. It was a painful reality. It still is.            Until this past summer when our boys Eyal, Gilad, Naftali  were murdered while making their way home from their Yeshivot in the Gush. Suddenly, the Jews of Eretz Yisrael and all around the world pulled together, focused, doing whatever they possibly could to “Bring Back Our Boys”. The אחדות unity was incredible. Suddenly we were just Jews. We were together. We were a nation. We were united. Eyal, Gilad, Naftali were not just the sons of 3 families, they were the sons of a people, the Jewish people. We felt the pain. We cried together. We mourned together.

This Shabbat (Parshat Noach) is the Shabbos Project, a brilliant initiative of Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein and his wife Gina, which was kicked off last year in South Africa. They asked the South African Jewish Community to keep one Shabbat together. The response went way beyond their expectations. The unity and spirit was incredible. It was an unforgettable experience. The Shabbos Project went viral and emails poured in from around the globe from communities looking to get involved. As a result, this year the Shabbos Project has gone international. We all have the opportunity to get involved.

To many, it’s about the obvious. It’s about encouraging those less observant to keep a Shabbat. Some for the first time ever.  And that is brilliant. But for me it is so much more. For me it’s an opportunity to reach out to Jews in my beloved Eretz Yisrael and encourage us all to stop with the judgments, put aside our differences and do this together, irrespective of whether your kipa is black, knitted or non-existant, irrespective of whether you eat this hechsher, that hechsher or no hechsher at all, irrespective of whether your sleeves reach your elbow, your head is covered, you wear a bikini to the beach, your boys learn all day, your pronounce your “taf”, you eat rice on Pesach, you club hop on a Friday night, you are a ben/bat Avraham or make a BBQ on Yom Kippur. For this Shabbat, Shabbat Noach 24th – 25th October, let us just be Jews. Let it be about אחדות unity. Let it be about וְאָהַבְתָּ לְרֵעֲךָ כָּמוֹךָ loving your neighbor as you do yourself. Let’s break the barriers, remove those walls and just be the unbelievable people we have the potential to be.

Let’s learn the lesson from Nazi Germany. Jews are all Jews.

Shabbos Project 2014 Official Video Clip:

Paula Abdul on the Shabbos Project 2014:




About the Author
Martine Alperstein made aliyah from Cape Town, South Africa 26 years ago.