|Holocaust survivors one day after liberation in May 1945.|
Photo: National Archives and Records Administration.
Participants in a lively discussion became polarized around the meaning of “Team Jewish”. Did it include those members of Israel their nation? Was the concept sufficient to incorporate all who consider themselves members of the tribe? And what about Jewish continuity? I began to reflect - what does belonging to “Team Jewish” actually mean for the culturally diverse, some of whom cling to the thinnest of assimilated threads? Notwithstanding attempts by Jewish establishments to accommodate the estranged, orthodox, conservative and reform, organizations aggregate their communities under the Team Jewish banner. However, some follow no religion at all and many don’t know or don’t admit to being Jewish.
The immediate assumption among conversation participants was that every member of the tribe is a member of “Team Jewish”, but that convenience didn’t cut it for me. That would make one mighty big unmanageable team and certainly members from the strictly orthodox league would not play on the same field as conservatives, reformers or abstainers. According to their rules some may not even be Jewish! What exists in the annals of Jewish history that had kept this fledgling nation alive and strengthened it through the most difficult challenges to rise and rise again? Something had to fit with the “Team Jewish” ideal that would accommodate all its members whether or not they agreed with each others practices.
The notion of automatic player admission to “Team Jewish” simply would not fit. Perhaps a broader “Club Jewish” concept would work, but who would select the team? Unifying Jewish opinions for team selection would be impossible, it would lead to more segmentation and would certainly do more harm than good. For the most part cultural Judaism in its multiple forms through its various organizations is a club anyone can join. Club-Jewish may fit the mold for diversity, but the club constitution and team selection would remain problematic. Many inconsistencies are imbued through different Jewish practices, some are cultural others more technical, but one remains stoically entrenched and central to each sub-community - the Torah scroll at the front of their clubhouses, written in the same millennial tradition.
My search continued deeper and deeper looking for something that could resolve the problem of team selection, then it struck me. At first I thought the idea is so removed from reality, that it just wasn’t possible, but that led me to the exact place that resolved the problem. A Kabbalistic concept that has forever produced selection of “Team Jewish” and it’s brilliant! Opinions vary about the number of members that constitute the team, but this minor detail should not get in the way of the establishment as most views converge. Team Jewish are the super-Jews, Tzadikim Nistarim (Hebrew: צַדִיקִים נִסתָּרים) the "hidden righteous ones". This elite group of 36 Jews exist in the world at all times, without them the world would fall. Any Jew can be selected for team-Jewish, but no-one ever knows exactly whether they’ve been selected - could be you! You may not know it and neither would anyone else, but “Club-Jewish” can be assured of the presence of these special team members at all times.
Despite the occasionally rowdy membership, Club-Jewish has survived because of its magnificent team who blitz the competition in every game. These pillars, on which the world stands silently blaze their brilliance every day, whether in business, science, the arts, religion, charity or politics this team keeps Club-Jewish in business for the benefit of its members. It reminds me of a rhyme some of my childhood friends used to say, modified here ever so slightly - ‘Jesus may save, but Team-Jewish always score on the rebound!’ Now that's a team any self-respecting club could be proud to support.
In this supernal image Club-Jewish settles the score to proudly unite its membership behind its magnificent team who humbly go about their silent business. Everyday they tackle, defend, attack, pass and score. As Club-Jewish members increasingly recognize, respect and regard the diversity of their multitudinous culture and settle back to barrack their team, the home ground advantage of their Jewish nation state will continue to pay it handsome dividends.