Rabbi Joshua M. Davidson’s Rosh Hashanah sermon in the Times of Israel
Shver tsu zayn a Yid! Last Spring, walking in Jerusalem, I passed a man wearing a t-shirt quoting the old Yiddish maxim: “It’s hard to be a Jew.”
Even in Israel.
Shver tsu zayn a Yid is how I felt that afternoon. Only a few hours earlier at the Knesset I had met Simcha Rothman, a principal architect of the Netanyahu government’s proposed judicial reform that jeopardizes a cornerstone of democracy – judicial independence. The reform is a means to an end. If enacted, other coalition proposals would be difficult to defeat, including bills discriminating against Arab Israelis, members of the LGBTQ+ community, and women, increasingly segregated in public settings; as well as bills to re-legislate the Law of Return to halachic standards, and to annex portions of the West Bank, effectively killing the Palestinian people’s own national aspirations – aspirations already withered by decades of Israeli occupation and a corrupt Palestinian leadership that traffics in antisemitic canards and pays terrorists to slay Israeli civilians.
For thirty-seven consecutive weeks, Israelis of every political, social and ethnic stripe have assembled to protest against this government; hundreds of thousands wrapping themselves in the blue and white of the state they cherish. Ein li eretz acheret, “I have no other country,” they sing. “I will not stay silent….” Poet Ehud Manor composed that cri de coeur during the first Lebanon War, in which many of these protestors fought. Others served in ’48 and ’67. Still others during Yom Kippur fifty years ago. But most, too young to remember those existential battles against enemies without, fight now to save Israel from the threat within.