The world has shown us how globalized we’ve become. This virus has literally touched the four corners of the earth.
The world has become smaller and smaller as technology has grown and travel has become commonplace.
Yet the Jewish world has always been somewhat intimate. Across cities, countries and even continents, Jews still have the same basic prayer structure, the same holy texts, and many of the same philosophies. Rabbi Shlomo Yitzhaki’s (Rashi) texts are found in 17th century Yemenite writings, even though he is noted as having lived in 11th century France and Germany. Rabbi Yitzhak Alfasi, or the RIF, wrote in 11th century Morocco and Spain, yet his writings on the Talmud could be found in printed texts across the known world for centuries, to this day.
In business, Jews were known for their connections spanning continents, from England to China and from Norway to South Africa. Take Dona Gracia (16th century), for example, who built her fortune after she left her home in Portugal and accumulated wealth through Antwerp and Venice before settling in Turkey. She used her international Jewish network and amassed fortune to help other persecuted Jews and to rebuild the city of Tiberias.
The native Jewish community of Egypt, since the 1800s saw an influx of immigrants from Spain, Greece, Yemen, Germany, and many more. The immigrants spoke their own languages and may not always have seen eye to eye with each other or with the native community, but when things were wrong in the world, Jews came together.
Physically, it’s become easier than ever to travel and meet new people and cultures, and now technology brings us even closer. We don’t have to wait for books or camel caravans to bring information from other cultures or communities. We are interconnected on so many levels.
The more we realize we are connected, the more there is a desire to understand the other. To learn about the cultures, histories and communities that although unique are also part of the greater Jewish Experience. We’re not that different from one another and have so much to learn from each other.
This is a time when our schedules are being lightened, even if unintentionally. Let’s take advantage of that. Let’s delve into the things we always talked about exploring but never really found the time.
As we’re realizing how connected we truly are, let’s take time to learn about who else is with us in this time and globalized era. Let’s learn about other cultures, customs and traditions throughout the ages and how they evolved into the communities we see today.
At the Institute of Jewish Experience, we believe in the unity that expanded knowledge can bring. And we believe in the power of education.
Now’s the time to explore.
Now’s the time to connect.
Now’s the time to unite.