Shlichut and the Sensible Jew

The Anonymous Benefactor is solely responsible for SJ having its own site and beautiful new template. He also happens to be involved in a number of projects that leave me in awe at their potential to benefit Jews and non-Jews alike.

Shlichut and the Sensible Jew
by The Anonymous Benefactor

I’ve been asking myself one question over the last year.

It can be a thorny question when asked in the context of a planet numbering 6,768,167,712 souls.

What is the purpose of my life?

Of course I might as well order a dish called triple stacked migraine with tooth ache garnish for all the fun that asking the question brings.

Even utilitarian philosophers conjured a two-tiered hierarchy to value their time (this being the only way they found to keep their spouses from exiting stage right).  Which is a long winded way of saying I’m sympathetic and somewhat awed by the path Alex is taking.

Delivering a taser charge to the tuches of a complacent Jewish community is both eminently satisfying and has the side benefit of triggering a worthwhile series of conversations (both public and private) within and with the community.

Alex is genuinely driven to improve the mental health of younger generations in the Jewish Community and concerned for the longer term future of Australian Jewry.  It’s easy to disagree about means, but the intent is absolutely worthwhile.

She has created a kernel of change. A kernel that exists in a social ecosystem. An ecosystem fostering a growing list of academics, social entrepreneurs, religious leaders and fed up citizens. All committed to providing an alternate trajectory for Western society. It is an ecosystem hidden in plain sight.

It was not long into one year of research, travel and discussion that I realised that we were experiencing a major period of punctuated disequilibrium in our society. A period that could lead to a rerun of the early twentieth century.

It was heartening to come across a major cross section of Jews out in the forefront of a fight against the scenario coming to pass.

For too long in Jewish Australia, we have anchored our sense of community in the preservation of a historic blood line, our traditional culture and our own social institutions. Volumes have been written by the ‘self help’ industry on the importance of ‘genuine purpose’. Perhaps it is time we tried that remedy for our community.

A Rabbi in the United States wrote these words for his Yom Kippur sermon this year.

“You have a shlichut. Given to you by your ancestors. It is dancing around inside of you. The voice of the tradition is calling, your grandparents are calling, or the call may come directly from Abraham and Sarah. And what is the voice inside of you saying? You are here for a purpose. What is your purpose? That is your shlichut.

I once saw a woman wearing a button which read, ‘Relax, God’s in Charge.’ And I thought to myself: a Jew definitely did not create that button, and the person wearing that button can not be Jewish.”

Can our community leaders  move beyond advocating for our ‘rights’?

Our right to have no anti-Semitism. Our right to the land of Israel. Our right to Freedom.

For it does not take a rocket scientist to know that our  historical grievances will fade from memory and the suffering of others will inevitably overwhelm our own in the wider public’s consciousness.

Rather than fighting a battle over legal and moral rights, can we consider accepting responsibility for the the world and our place in it? Both for practical strategic reasons and in keeping with much of our religious body of belief.

I believe we must continue to write a new story for our community.

One that inspires and motivates not just our community – but those whom we live with. A story that leads to new possibilities.

A story that resonates both with the secular and with the religious.

Theodore Herzl created Zionism as a movement to be a shining beacon of social progress for humanity. Karl Marx inspired communism as a way forward for humanity. Milton Friedman inspired economic and market liberalism.

We might reflect on our history as one of helping clean up the mess of our good intentions and then moving forward.

We Jews have woven through the fabric of the 20th century and the 21st looks like being no different.

Today there is a growing number of Jewish social entrepreneurs, business people and academics driven by a mission to redirect Western society . Whether deeply religious or secular they seemed to have embraced their shlichut.

I invite readers to move beyond complaining. Let’s instead use our energy to figure out how the enormous potential of the Australian Jewish Community can be applied to the broader societal issues we face.

We know we do not lack financial and technical resources – just the social organisation to make use of them beyond our individual interests.

Congratulations to The Sensible Jew blog for standing up to be counted.

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3 Responses to “Shlichut and the Sensible Jew”

  1. Ilana Payes says:

    Beautiful. I agree completely so I apologise for not adding anything here but encouragement.

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  2. Phil O'Semetic says:

    Bugger Bennelong, I know Bob Hoggs brother…
    Let’s make it Fein for Higgins!

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