Israeli Values Religious Voices

Letter 15 - Rabbi Rinat Safania Shwartz

To the State of Israel and all its inhabitants,

The People of Israel are one big family. 

The model of the founding families of a nation is very complicated. According to the eternal book of books, being a brother does not necessarily mean to love. Sometimes it means to be jealous, to hate and sometimes even wanting to kill. The People of Israel understand the value of family but also recognize the challenges and the failures. Several times over the course of Jewish history, we saw and experienced the price of alienation and hostility in the family, which led to breaking up and loss of life. 

We all know that we don’t get to choose our family, however, we do have a responsibility to the way we will manage it, with all its challenges. 

75 years ago, the State of Israel took upon itself a challenging but yet an exciting task. 

To mend the family tears of the past, to unite between all the different parts of the family and to bring them to one place - the land of Israel. 

Jews came to Israel from different countries, different traditions, different cultures and different world views. Side by side with the enormous excitement over the big family reunion, there was a question: these are Jews and those are Jews, how will they all live together?

Like every parent, first we need to love our children with all their differences. We need to remind ourselves of the cornerstones of our tradition: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” or at least “Don’t do to others what you don’t like others do to you”. 

Our commitment is to all of Israel, to work hard day and night and to manage our family successfully, to use our time wisely, even when it gets tough. We should be kind, attentive, encouraging, supportive, and mainly wanting to be together even when the going gets tough. We should know how to give up, forgive, to expand our home and give each their own room, to meet for family dinners, to develop self humor, family pride, and not to give up holding hands. 

The fact that we are different from one another is a blessing. We can live with one another, side by side, with acceptance and love. 

Besides being part of the Jewish family, we belong also to the family of humanity and creation, therefore, we are commended “To love thy neighbor as you love yourself”.

As a country, as sisters and brothers, as the Jewish family and the family of the world, we are ready and aspire to live in a good and just society for all its inhabitants.


Rabbi Rinat Safania Shwartz

Rabbi Rinat Safania Schwartz, is the founding Rabbi of “Veahavta”, a Reform Israeli congregation in Shoham and a regional Rabbi of the Modi’in area. Married to Liron, mother of Ariel. Daughter to the Safania family which has all denominations of Judaism. Graduate of the Hebrew Union College in Jerusalem, educational advisor for youth at risk, facilitator and pastoral care taker.

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