Leap of Faith: Valentine’s Day? To be Jewish is to know you are loved every day

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Leap of Faith: Valentine’s Day? To be Jewish is to know you are loved every day

We know we are not forgotten, and that our lives have value

Since having my son three months ago I’ve been bombarded by parenting tips. Everyone has their own methods, but the one thing that seems to unite the schools is the importance of a child knowing they are loved. The books say things like: “When your baby feels loved they are more confident and able to explore and enjoy the world,” or: “A child who is firmly rooted in a secure loving home has the emotional tools to cope with the knockbacks and politics of the playground.”

I suppose the God of our liturgy and tradition has been reading these books too!

“Blessed are you God who chooses your people in love,” reads the text before the Shema. “With great love You have loved us,” says one of our morning prayers. “Your love is unending,” we read in the evening, and so it goes on.

Why reinforce these messages? If it’s good parenting for a child to know they are loved, then how much more so is it true on a grander scale?

I think of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Joseph, locked in his dark prison cell, who famously sings the stirring words: “Children of Israel are never alone,” and I wonder if that’s exactly what these texts and the constant reinforcement in our tradition that God loves the people Israel are trying to achieve. The fictional Joseph is resilient and optimistic because of his sense of identity. Like Jews throughout the generations, because he is able to see hate as a temporary experience, and the promise that comes from God’s love as eternal, he can lift himself up out of the darkness of his captivity.

It’s not always easy being Jewish, but like the love of a parent and family that sustains a child emotionally, because they know their value and their worth even when others are cruel, the love of others in the Jewish community and people’s personal faith in God, have huge power to hold them through adversity. They know they are not forgotten, and that their lives have value.

As the hearts of the Jewish world remain turned towards modern captives, those who have been freed have recounted how important it was to them to hear their families on the radio fighting for their release, and how their captors tormented them by saying nobody cared, that nobody was coming for them. To be Jewish is to know you are loved, and to know that your community has your back.

I hope it is not for too much longer that the hostages need to remind themselves of this before they are returned to the loving arms of their families

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