Nathan Grynberg Sissa

Resilience in Motion: The Evolving Jewish Path

Since my childhood, I’ve been reminded that individuals like me are perceived as different, carrying a unique set of behaviors and responsibilities shaped by societal expectations, whether from our own community or the world at large. I heard the adults talk, some claimed that we were the chosen people of God – but that divine notion was incomprehensible to me, and I couldn’t fathom why we were chosen. Others simply claimed our distinctiveness, without providing a clear explanation. Trying to make sense of it all was bewildering; I could hardly understand anything.

Despite the confusion, certain notions were etched in my mind. I recognized from an early age that Jews had endured centuries of persecution and harassment for being deemed “different”. Over time, I also realized the human tendency to find scapegoats rather than confront the underlying causes of issues.

My Jewish identity evolved from a predominantly light-religious framework to one deeply rooted in the cultural tapestry, the land of Israel, and the rich history of our people. During my adolescent years, I embraced a phase of “leftist idealism,” a sentiment shared by many youths, advocating for equality and adorned with symbols such as the Che Guevara on my shirt, even though my understanding of his history was limited. I championed a world without borders, nurturing the belief that unfulfilled utopias could materialize through collective improvement.

During that same phase, around the age of 13, I became acutely aware of the pervasive hatred in the world – a hatred stemming from social conditions, gender orientations, religions, or any dissimilarity in thought. As mentioned, I attribute this to the human inclination to point fingers rather than assume responsibility. What deeply troubles me is the existence of millions who harbor genuine animosity toward others, often without personal acquaintance, merely for their differences. This incomprehensible hatred, proven to be a historical catalyst for unspeakable acts, remains a source of profound concern.

Throughout history, myriad examples underscore the prevalence of prejudice, whether based on skin color, sexual orientation, gender, religion, or innumerable other factors. This realization brings me back to my childhood, when my Polish grandfather, a Holocaust survivor, conveyed that we were different without delving into a profound explanation. Today, I conclude that our distinctiveness isn’t about superiority or divine selection; rather, it’s a testament to the resilience of the Jewish people. In the face of adversity, we have unified and upheld core values, such as the sanctity of life during harrowing times like the present.

In this moment of darkness, marked by challenges for Israel and the Jewish community, preceded by internal divisions and an alarming rise in antisemitism, a collective unity has emerged, reigniting the flame of hope.

That’s why we are different. Our uniqueness lies not in our methods of study or prayer, nor in a perceived “connection with God,” but rather in our collective response across generations to the most intricate and challenging moments. We strive to illuminate our path with a hopeful light, one that is shared globally.

Today, we find ourselves in a complex and multifaceted struggle – a battle for the liberation of captives in Gaza, a commitment to our soldiers on the battlefield, an endeavor to rebuild Israel and nurture the well-being of its citizens across physical, mental, and spiritual dimensions. Simultaneously, we engage in an ideological war, defending the principles of modernity and freedom globally. Moreover, we stand resolute in safeguarding and fortifying every Jewish community dispersed across the world.

The enduring struggle for freedom, hope, and light has spanned millennia, and we commit to its continuation, for ourselves and for a better world.

The once-confused child now stands firm, holding the frontline with a clear voice and a sharp mind.

About the Author
Nathan is the Executive Director of the Zionist Federation of Mexico. He holds a Master's degree in Nonprofit Management from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a Bachelor's degree in Mass Media and Communications from the Universidad de las Américas in Mexico City. His extensive global experience spans Mexico, Israel, Ghana, and the United States. Nathan drinks coffee like there's no tomorrow, plays the drums, and shares his life with his wonderful wife.
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