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I'm a Jew and I'm Proud

I'm a Jew and I'm Proud

Photo by Michoel Ogince
Photo by Michoel Ogince

The cycle has come to an end. In the past year, as every year, we read and were inspired by the Torah—the story of our nation.

We were awed by Adam (how awesome to be created by G‑d and have the world for yourself), sympathized with Noah (poor guy, saw the whole world go down), were impressed with Abraham (first thrown into the furnace, then almost sacrificed his son), were caught up in the sibling rivalry between Joseph and his brothers, and held our breaths at the breathtaking saga of the Exodus.

And then, from when Moses received the Torah on Mount Sinai until his final departure on Mount Nebo, we experienced the tumultuous forty-year journey through the desert. Laws, mistakes, complaints, smashing of the tablets, spies, plagues and the entire gamut of the nail-biting drama which our drama-addicted ancestors lived through on their historic trek from the pyramids to the land of Israel. The Torah reading every Shabbat morning was quite an entertaining and educational experience.

And as we start all over again, we hold our breath, aware of the journey to come. What lessons, insights, and inspiration will we derive from our patriarchs and matriarchs next time around?

Let his last words linger in our heartsBut before we roll back the Torah from the Jordan River to 2,500 years earlier, let us reflect for a moment on Moses' final words, uttered just before he went up to the mountain and was buried by G‑d. Let his last words linger in our hearts:

"Fortunate are you, O Israel…"

What wonderful parting words. Moses was proclaiming to the Jew of Israel and of Babylonia, the Jew of Tunisia and Spain, of France, Poland, and America:

"My beloved nation and my fellow Jews, how lucky, how fortunate you are. How wonderful it is to be a Jew."

No, being a Jew is not an "eternal damnation."

No, it's not hard to be a Jew; nor is it a burden you must carry.

No, secularism, assimilation, and self-hate are not the way for a Jew.


Yes, you are lucky to be Jewish!

Yes, although you may live through hell on earth for the next three millennia, you should – and will – always hold your head high!

Yes, being Jewish is a gift, a cause for joy, a piece of heaven.

Yes, Torah and mitzvot are a blessing. They connect us to our Creator, and transform this world into a better place for all mankind.

Dear friend:

As the month of Tishrei comes to a close and we look back on the most powerful month of the year – accepting G‑d's sovereignty on Rosh Hashanah, being forgiven on Yom Kippur, uniting with G‑d and our fellow Jews on Sukkot, dancing our souls and soles out on Simchat Torah – it is now the time to declare our pride in our Jewishness.

I am a Jew and I'm proud.

Rabbi Levi Avtzon lives in Johannesburg, South Africa, with his wife Chaya and their children. He is associate rabbi and director of outreach at the Linksfield Senderwood Hebrew Congregationl.
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Sheldon H. Steinlauf Park Ridge, IL October 14, 2014

Awe Excellent input with the exception that I hold Hashem in awe, not Adam. Reply

Theron Compton Colombia October 14, 2014

Proud? The use of the word proud strikes fear into me, especially when used by a Jew. Is not to be a Jew, is to be proud of your actions not of your dogma of beliefs? Pride maybe the biggest enemy of Jewish principals. Hitler used proud of being German extensively against the Jewish people. Being proud infers the exclusivity of being right, as a Jew I have learned to do good and right not to pretend I am good and right. Reply

Ezra San Diego September 20, 2013

Wonderful Thanks for posting this. :) Reply

Anonymous Sydney July 19, 2013

I admire Jews I am not jewish, but having worked in a jewish school, I came to admire the jewish faith. You have a lot to be proud of. Reply

Moises Tampa, Fl October 21, 2011

Coming back to my roots This article touched my heart. Not raised as a Jew but of Jewish blood (serphardic) . Reading Torah and connecting with rosh hashanah,yom kippur sukkot and the others I pray that thru me my generation will come back to our roots of jewishness Reply

Hary West Java, Indonesia via October 7, 2011

A minority. A very exclusive Club. Shalom,

It is almost 2pm in Indonesia and we are in the midst of preparing our meal to start the fast.
It is articles like these that remind me why I do it despite all the practical difficulties here at home.
It is heartening to know I am not alone.
I am Jewish and proud of it.

Shalom and Have a good Fast. Reply

Eliana Boston, MA October 5, 2011

This made me cry.
Thank you.

- the token giyoret. Reply

tom rozene east boston, MA usa October 4, 2011

jewish pride I am proud I am very afraid, I too have secular parents, I grew up knowing no Jews and nothing of Judaism, many people have much hate for us . It takes great courage to say I am a your rabbis and teach your children lest they grow ols and alone as I Reply

Emmanuel sydney, australia October 4, 2011

G-d bless the Jewish people we have survived a thousand generations in the face of persecution from some of the most sophisticated civilizations and peoples in history, and continue to teach our children the teachings of our fathers, as agreed to at Sinai.......confident that they will continue to pass that tradition and heritage on to their offspring, and their offspring in some way........proud Yes, and very much so Reply

Alexandra Denver, Co, USA October 3, 2010


Can't you understand / I want both hands / FREE! / I don't want what's happened to Jews / Ever to happen to me! / Or to my loved ones / No -- not to them! / Being Jewish makes my pride / Hem and haw / Yes, haw and hem..../ Yes, I am Jewish / And I'm embarrassed / You can see it's true! / And if you're Jewish / And not embarrassed / Well, I pray each night, for you! Reply

Alexandra Denver, CO USA October 3, 2010

I'm A Jew And I''m Proud Is this a question for the crowd? / Would you ever put the quiery: / "I'm a man and I am proud?" / No. That's obvious / So I am leery / Of a question, or statement, rather / Does Judaism give pride's full lather? / For me -- no. / I am Jewish, and / I'm embarrassed. / Jews, it seems are always harrassed / Calesthenics, racquetball / Regattas, Ballet / I want them all! / My body's NOT on loan from God! / My feet need not always be shod! / I can only stand aghast / While Gentiles in beauty / And Grace, me surpass! / I feel less Jewish than Ralph Lauren / In upper high-society / Religious Jews just aren't. / Yes, I am Jewsh and embarrassed / My mind's not on Israel / But on Paris! / And New York / And London-Town / I want smart suits and gracious ball-gowns! / Life. it seems. is hard enough / Being Jewish is doubly tough! / Mark Twain said / On reality's track / "Look at all the Jew has done / With one hand tied behind his back" / TO BE CONTINUED Reply

Elisheva L.A., CA September 29, 2010

Always Encouraging News This piece by Levi Avtzon is a perfect example of what I like about Chabad: no matter what (through thick and thin), they will always find ways to make you "leave" feeling good about yourself.

Oftentimes the positive blessing only arrives at the end of a class or torah thought. In this instance, however, the entire ARTICLE is uplifting. What other Hasidic group does this for us?

What other group will include every Jew--be they disenfranchised, dispossessed, alienated, doubting, or ostracized--and include them ALL in their blessings that WE AS A GROUP [yes, them (Hasids) AND us (students of Judaism, learners, "simple" folk, the secular, rich and poor, hungry and satiated, et al)] are Fortunate or Blessed? Reply

Nolan Edmonson Montclair, NJ via September 29, 2010

JEWS ROCK! I do not think that the first comment does this article justice. This article recognizes that without G-d we could not be te people we are today. and that we should be greatful to be Jews! Ani Yehudi! Reply

Alexandra Denver, CO, USA September 29, 2010

I'm A Jew, And I'm Proud....But I Chose Baseball.. Dear Montereylen: Aubrey de Grey, a scientist, says people can live to 1000, if they do healthy things, (sleep enough, eat healthily, excercise, stay close tio famiily if possible, etc.) Bottom Line newsletter has recently said Anyone can stay young by eating fewer calories. I don't know if you want to live to be 1000 -- but the possibility is out there. So-- remember Grandma Moses and other "late bloomers"...& study Torah & Judaism if you want to. Remember, many men get BarMitzvahed long after they are 13, due to circumstances they couldn't control. (A woman even became a nun at age 92, becvause life intervened & she couldn't do it earlier.) Dr. Robert Schuller says growing old means 'hardening of the ATTITUDES!" So, if you have an open mind, & know what you want...go for it! I think that, I_F you want it, you could even be ordained a rabbi at age 95....or even before! People are as youong as they FEEL! If your attitudes are flexible, you are Forever Young! Good Luck! : ) Reply

Barbara Armstrong, B.C. Canada September 28, 2010

Proud? I am not anti -Jewish. I had desperately wanted to be Jewish and was in total awe of Jews. But I do not understand the pride issue. According to the scriptures the Jews were pretty much failures ninety percent of the time. Maybe more than that. It is God, not the strength of the Jewish people that has allowed you to still be a nation to this day. The glory goes to him alone. He will never divorce, disown or reject you. I can see having joy and gratitude for his unfailing love and his faithfulness to the covenant he made. But pride?

I have always wondered why you guys never tell other people about God. The Christians want everyone to know about him. Most people in Canada think that Christianity is a gentile version of the same religion. Christians go everywhere with what you call blasphemy but you don't go anywhere with the truth. And the truth is the only thing that is going to make the world a better place. Technology just makes people comfortable on the way to hell. Reply

Alexandra Denver, CO, USA September 28, 2010

Jews are lucky -- or, rather, have been given good luck by G-d? To make a long stoiry short -- such luck I can do without! There IS an inner beauty in Judaism -- family togetherness, love of learning, a long history of survival, etc. -- but it must be remembered that OTHER ethnic groups ALSO have family togetherness, and love learning, have a long history....and, by and large, never had to WORRY about survival.
Some comedian, (forget whom), said: "God has chosen the Jews for so many terrible things....I wish He'd choose some other group for a change!" I think the VERY best thing to remember, for EVERYONE, is something I discovered and put into words, after watching the WONDERFUL 1989 show, "Alen Nation"(also reommended by the NY Board of Jewish Education.) It is: "It's fine to be proud of one's ancestors, but finer, by far to make sure your descendants can be proud of you!" Jews have great things in their history-- but so do other national groups! EVERYONE can find
joy in that! Reply

John Lemley Vancouver, WA September 28, 2010

blessed to be Jewish Thank you Stephen, for the important reminder. Yes, I'm so thankful to be raised in a Jewish home, unpolluted with the pagan world-view. Every Sabbath I praise G-d for the special favor we have. Every meal I prasie Him because I know only clean food is served, Every quoting of the Shema gives me gratitude for the truth we know.
kol tuv! Reply

montereylen Modesto, Ca. USA September 28, 2010

I am a Jew, and proud of it. My only problem is that my parents were secular Jews. They left it up to me. So at 10 years old i choose to play baseball instead of going to Hebrew school. So in measuring my life i have been a failure at everything. Im now eighty one years old. I dont know if God still works in my life. If he does i would like directions that i can follow without ripping my self to pieces. Reply

M H September 27, 2010

morning prayers Stephen, you actually touched on a deep topic, that of being the chosen nation. Every morning in our prayers we say the words "ashreinu mah tov chelkeinu uma naim goraleinu", which can be translated (inadequately) as, "how lucky are we, how good is our portion and how pleasant our lot". At celebrations we wish each other mazel tov, words found in the prayer book, which literally means good luck. Everything in this world is precisely predestined but on some level we are lucky that G-d chose Abraham and his descendants, usJews to be His nation and to receive the Torah. I'm sure if you look around on, probably in the Shavuot section, you can learn more about this concept. Chag Sameach! Reply

Mark (Moishe) Lewack Frederick, MD September 26, 2010

Thanks Levi -- Yasher Koach My hope for the coming year is for continued success for Chabad and all "Jewish" congregations and for many more jews to become Ba'alei T'shuvah!

-- Moishe
Member, Chabad of Frederick County, MD Reply

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