Dear friends, The Pope's visit was a very joyous occasion; it seemed to add to the celebratory mood of our Holiday season. It was thrilling to hear the Pope speak about the importance of peace and mutual respect between all faiths. This is especially so in view of the historical relationship between Judaism and the Church. This, however, does raise a question for us as Jews. If all religions are essentially the same, why bother to be Jewish? It is especially so since we are such a small minority and it is very easy for us to lose our identity by merely assimilating away. The question raised is one that we have been dealing with since the 19th century. It is how we can be citizens of the world, while at the same time, maintain our unique Jewish identity and religious practice. There have been many attempts to deal with this problem with varying degrees of success. It however remains unresolved. A possible answer is that our faith teaches some unique lessons the knowledge of which would benefit all humanity. If we allow our heritage to weaken or disappear, we not only deprive ourselves but impoverished world civilization by allowing one of its important elements to fade. Let us rather resolve to be more dedicated and enthusiastic Jews by being examples of living faithfully according our traditions. Let me wish all of you a Chag Sameach. May we have many opportunities to study Torah and do Mitzvahs in the year to come.
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