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On Jewish Identity

Friday, 28 December, 2018 - 10:29 pm


Dear Friend,


This Shabbat we begin reading the first portion of the second Torah book starting with the words "...Shemot".

The word “Shemot” means names. Our sages teach, there were three ingredients critical to preserving our people’s identity for the duration of their long and bitter bondage in Egypt: they maintained their language, their mode of dress, and their Jewish names.

The Rebbe would often compare and contrast our final exile and redemption to the original slavery and exodus. To the amazement of many in the late 1950's, the Rebbe even mentioned Allen Ginsberg and Abbie Hoffman (of beatnik and Yippie fame) as perfect candidates worthy of Moshiach redemption with the best of em; Shtick notwithstanding said the Rebbe, "they keep Jewish surnames and both dress and speak in a way different than the locals as our righteous forefathers had done in Egypt". 

With that said, I suggest and encourage getting comfortable and making use of your Hebrew name (perhaps identify yourself to the local barista at Starbucks that way to hear "Yaacov Moshe your latte is ready!"). Should you not know it, we can talk about it over cholent at the Shabbat Kiddush. I’m sure we can figure it out! 

With warm wishes for a peaceful and meaningful Shabbat,

Rabbi Shmuel A. Metzger

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