Jewish history has been described as a 30-century kaleidoscope. Some, of the very faithful can access all 30 parts with ambient lucidity. The majority live in the last, most recent part where knowledge of or from our (great) grandparents are our sharpest lens into the past. And what a highly desecrated and decorated link that is.
From the camps to tents and shores – we know those who secured our futures for generations to come. Yet the dream must be kept alive, and the most nascent torch holders look like you and I. Young, ambitious and purposeful spirits who want to live rich and fulfilled lives.
The primary difference is their rite of passage. They are tasked with standing on the very edge of life and death daily. Whilst we in our late teens await the Selfridges sale or a discounted flight to Bergen, our peers are dehydrated and alone in the Negev training to fight for life.
To meet these people is a poignant chance to re-connect with ourselves and our history. To take pause and think how lucky we are and how different things could be.
A Friday night dinner organised by the Centre for Jewish Life at the Marriott does not sound like much. It feels familiar yet the atmosphere is pointedly different. It’s not just another meat and great where Bezel’s burn bright. This night is to help re-focus on what matters most. The preservation of our faith, filial relations and moral compass. Whilst listening to these six young men and women, currently serving as officers in the IDF, we look into the eyes of those that do and realise what is done.img_2924
It is humbling and inspiring. It brings comfort, respect and scale to our own daily achievements. Everyone’s lot is unique and responsibilities are shared – but a reminder of why we live in such relative prosperity is a positive pill to swallow.
img_2915People’s intellectual and ethical boundaries are increasingly being shaped by others. As Jews, our senses are bombarded by images and sounds that cunningly weave a sense of shame into our relationship with Israel.
Being addressed by those supposed purveyors and perpetrators is cathartic. It allows us to re-draw our own moral boundaries in line with reality. It means we can connect to the primary source and pump positive energy through our mental gymnasia. It allows us to drain the septic that stalks our thoughts. We can interact with the 30-year kaleidoscope of our own lives – and remember just why we can jostle for position at the Hilton.
A humble Friday night goes along way.