If James Brown were a Jew: Say it loud…

i_am_a_jew_stickersBy David Steiner

I am a Zionist, a liberal Zionist, a “beautiful soul” as my detractors would have it, and “I will not die but live” (Psalm 118:17) because my mission is too important. I am an heir to that divine command, “Walk in my ways and be innocent (Genesis 17:1).” And I take my inheritance seriously.

My identity was ascribed in Egypt and assumed at Sinai. Not only did I choose to be a Jew, I was also labeled one, but I will not allow labels to tell me who I am; not by Pharaoh, not by the Romans, not by the Spanish, or even the Nazis. I will continue to “choose life (Deuteronomy 30:19),” as my earliest teachers prescribed, and I will do so from a position of independence, not fear. I am a Jew.

I will not make idols out of land, nor put ideals before human lives. I am a Jew.

I will not censor, nor deal falsely, nor lie to cover my shame. I am a Jew.

I will rebuke my fellow and try not to transgress in the process because I am bound to all of Israel. I am a Jew.

I shall not defraud my neighbor, nor rob him of his land or his human rights. I am a Jew.

The wages of my foreign laborers will not remain with me all night until the morning, nor shall I exile his children from the land of their birth. I am a Jew.

I shall not curse the deaf, nor put a stumbling block before the blind, because I seek honest discourse with just outcomes. I am a Jew.

I will not stand idly by as the blood of my neighbors is shed by my own countrymen. I am a Jew.

I will not hate my brother in my heart; and will reason with my neighbor, and not allow sin on either account. I am a Jew.

I will not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of my people but shall continue to love my neighbor as myself. I am a Jew.

David Steiner, Ed.D, is a filmmaker, mediator and rabbinical student at the International Institute for Secular Humanistic Judaism.