Israel, Where East Meets West

(Andy Blumenthal)
(Andy Blumenthal)

I saw this beautiful painting from Morocco at a fair in downtown Washington D.C. and just had to snap a photo.

In it, I can almost see myself, standing there, watching the desert riders, and their horses, colorful garb, and swords.  I envision that they are fighting with European crusaders, and I can almost see the clash of swords and shields. The dust from the riders swirls up into the air as the horses race here and there, East meeting West.

There is something so alive about this work of art, and although it’s not from my own Jewish heritage, it makes me reflect anyway.

What’s interesting also to me is that in Judaism, we have both Ashkenazi and Sephardi cultures. Ashkenazi Jews traditionally are descendants from Germany and France and later shifting eastward to places also like Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Ukraine Hungary, Romania, Russia, and more.  Sephardi Jews stem from Spain and Portugal with offshoots after their expulsion into countries in North Africa, Asia, and South America–places far and wide from Morocco, Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Turkey, and farther.

While Israel is our Biblical homeland and the Promised Land, we have been exiled to literally the “four corners of the Earth” just as was prophesized.  On one hand, as Jewish people, we have one G-d, one faith, one tradition, and one Torah, yet at the same time, we’ve been driven and exiled to everywhere–the result is that we are the same and yet we are also so diverse.

Maybe through our pain and suffering of anti-Semitism and exile throughout the ages, we were given a unique strength by the Almighty, and even then for this, we need to be eternally grateful.

The modern State of Israel is truly the embodiment of this oneness and this diversity. The Jewish Nation-State Law embodies this concept where Israel is defined as the national homeland for the Jewish People, yet it is democratic, open and welcoming to everyone. For Jewish people, there are Ashkenazi Jews and there are Sephardi Jews.  And at the same time, there are people of faith, Christians, Muslims, Druze, and others from all over the globe.

Israel is an ancient land that is holy to three of the major religions of the world and at the same time, it is a modern one where science, technology, culture, and innovation are flourishing.  East meets West in Israel, and G-d has a special place there for the unity of mankind and the redemption of the world.

About the Author
Andy Blumenthal is business and technology leader who writes frequently about Jewish life, culture, and security. All opinions are his own.
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