Israeli Values Religious Voices

Letter 12 - Dr. Dror Bondi

To the State of Israel and all its inhabitants,

We are sisters and brothers! All of us, Jews and non Jews alike. 

As Jews, we are members of the Jewish people's family. As humans, we are the children of the one who created all of us in his image. 

What is “achva”? (Sisterhood and Brotherhood) There are two concepts of “achva”: Natural and Divine. 

The natural one is common to us and to the animals. We feel security with those who are similar to us, and join ranks against a foreign enemy. It’s a natural feeling, and as such, an extreme denial is not healthy and may lead to problematic consequences. 

The first murder of humanity was done by a brother who lost the feeling of natural brotherhood: “Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?”, “I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4, 9)

And yet, natural brotherhood can also be the source of xenophobia, racism or hatred based on religious or sectoral grounds, to the loss of human solidarity. 

We should not forget that the Torah opens with the story about the creator of the universe, who created all people in his own image, and not with the first “mitzvah” Israel was commanded with. Even our sages protested to the Romans against the antisemitic decrees in the name of universal brotherhood that should exist amongst all of us: “For goodness sake, aren’t we your brothers? The sons of the same mother and same father?” (Massechet Rosh Hashanah 19, a)

Or, in the words of Abraham Joshua Heschel: “God is every man's pedigree. He is either the Father of all men or of no man. The image of God is either in every man or in no man”.

My sisters and brothers, after 2000 years of exile, we are fortunate to have a Jewish State, which brought the natural “achva” among Jews to a peak and opened its gates to all Jews whoever they are.

I ask you, let us not forget that Judaism is a larger story, that we are not a nation like all nations that only cares about itself, that the message of Judaism is in the values ​​of divine “achva”.


Dr. Dror Bondi

Dr. Dror Bondi, researcher, translator and  a “Hassid” of Abraham Joshua Heschel. Dror teaches Heschel’s teachings in Machon Kerem and other various academic institutions. He is also a research fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute.

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