During the Israelites’ time in Egypt, they lived in an area called Goshen, separated and away from the locals. They became very assimilated in the end, but there were a few things they kept, which saved them. It is said they did not change their Hebrew names, language or the way they dressed. That’s all it took to merit freedom.
We should not be afraid of being different. We are not meant to be like everybody else or to look like everybody else. Even a Jewish king was not supposed to be like all other kings. He was supposed to be a model Jew, righteous and God fearing, for the rest to follow.
Being different has been a strength for the Jews, but also the reason Jews have been hated more than any other people on earth. We can and should be what we want to be. The future is in our hands as it was for the Israelites who refused to give up their names, their language and their way to dress.
Rabbi Nachman Kahana, came out of his home in the Old City of Jerusalem and was asked by tourists if he is Jewish. He said “no, I am not Jewish”. They looked surprised so he continued “Let me explain. Let’s say you have something that is the color red, but not really red, you call it reddish. You have something that is yellow, but not really yellow, you call it yellowish. I am not Jewish, I am a Jew!”
When one acts as a Jew and look like a Jew, there is nothing to be ashamed of. On the contrary, we should not hide our Judaism, but be proud of who we are and our heritage. When you see a Jew with his tzitzit, you know he is a proud Jew. When you see the perseverance and dedication of ordinary people going to the synagogue three times a day, every day of their life, you know they are proud Jews. When I hear people call out to somebody with typical Jewish names, my heart melts: Moshe,Yaakov, Rachel…..they all live in my neighborhood and they are all part of the very long chain of proud Jews. So let’s be real Jews, not so much Jew-ish.