I'm the only Jew in my class and struggling with the balance of retaining my Jewish identity while having proper interaction with my peers. What's the correct approach to being Jewish in an atmosphere of non-Jews?


There's a lot to speak about, but for now, let's keep it seasonal.

We're just coming from Chanukah, and oil plays a big part in the Chanukah story. For that matter, it plays a big part in Judaism. What makes it so important?

Oil is a strange substance with two very opposite properties. On one hand, it always floats to the top. No matter how hard you try, it just won't mix with other liquids. Yet, at the same time, when oil goes somewhere, it goes all the way through. It's this sort of saturation that makes oil-based stains so tough to remove. So it both floats above and permeates within. Go figure!

Our nation is like oil. On one hand, we are quite different from those around us. We must treasure our distinct identity, being proud to look and act like Jews do. We are the ancient tribe that never assimilated, that's here today just as we were three and a half thousand years ago. And how do others view this? Look for yourself: Gentiles respect Jews who respect themselves—and are embarrassed of Jews who are embarrassed of themselves.

Yet at the same time, we mix freely among the peoples of the world. You'd think a tribe like ours would stick to Israel and parts of Brooklyn. But that just isn't so. For the Jews are "a light onto a nations." We are all ambassadors of G‑d sent here on a mission to bring holiness and goodness to all those around us. We are role models whose good deeds are to rub off upon others.

Be the best oil you can be and you'll go far.