This Dvar is
dedicated L'ilui Nishmat R' Yaakov Menachem Munish ben Natan
Welcome to the concise, relevant Lelamed Weekly Dvar. Although
this Dvar doesn't follow the typical format of
question/answer/relevance, it is something that I've dedicated my
professional career to developing - starting and running Jewish
Culture Clubs in public/private non-jewish high schools. This
message is important today more than ever before. Enjoy...
* * *
Despite being set in the midst of a corrupt Egyptian society, the
Jewish community was flourishing with schools, synagogues and
social networks, and assimilation was virtually non-existent, and
it was because they made a pact amongst themselves not to change
their names, style of dress, or language. With these safeguards,
they were able to keep a healthy distance. As Rabbi Shraga Simmons
explains, at the beginning of this week's Parsha, Shemot, the tide
turned: Immediately after the old generation died, the Jewish
People spread throughout Egypt and the assimilation began. They
dropped their Jewish customs and blended into secular society.
Immediately, verse 8 reports the rise of anti-Semitism in Egypt.
What makes this so unusual is that hatred of one group for another
is typically due to what sociologists call "dislike of the
unlike." The Egyptians didn't mind as long as the Jews kept to
themselves. It was once they began to resemble "regular Egyptians"
that the anti-Semitism began. The dual loyalty issue had reared
its ugly head. Anti-Semitism is often generated with the
perception that Jews have power and influence.
It's happening again today and, as we can see from this week's
Parsha, the consequences are devastating. Jews are apathetic and
disinterested. But if you're reading this, you are amongst those
who care. We can break the cycle and turn our ship around by
making the commitment to Jewish education and Jewish observance.
The Torah offers literally thousands of opportunities to express
our Jewish identity on a regular basis. Light Shabbos candles, or
say the Shema. Listen in your Jewish studies classes, or start a
lunchtime study group. Judaism is not all-or-nothing. The options
are endless. The experience is transforming. The reward is