|Juda Engelmayer||March 8th 2012|
It would seem odd, or possibly some act of defiance – and the New York Times carried the story about Justice Joubran earlier this week – that he did not chant the Israeli national anthem, presumably because the words “Nefesh Yehudi homiyah,” which means, “A Jewish soul still yearns,” do not apply to him.
The anthem was not new to him when he became a lawyer, nor when he became a Supreme Court judge. It may indeed be an uncomfortable concept to sing, let alone believe by one who is not Jewish. It highlights the delicate tightrope Israel walks in its pursuit of peace and prosperity while safeguarding its democratic statehood.
For Jews, living in Israel ironically often removes Jewish identity from the everyday life of the average Jew. Unlike most places, where for many, Jewish identity is worn on our sleeves so to speak; on our heads actually for some, but also with the often uncomfortable vacation requests at work and exclusion of eating at non-kosher restaurants, Israeli Jews to do have to face these issues. In Israel, Jewish holidays are the State holidays and no one feels out of place donning a skullcap.