(You can find this article also here: http://www.jewrnalism.org/home/news/itemlist/category/4-religion)
Being Jewish is not easy outside of Israel. Some people you come into contact with behave weird when they hear you are Jewish. Some react negatively or are even hostile. Some give you the feeling that it does not matter to them if you are Jewish or not, these people are the most relaxed I’ve ever met. But there is a fourth group. The group who is interested in what you do, where you come from, what your parents or grandparents did during Shoa and how they survived it. Then, like an unwritten rule, there are always the questions which leads to a conversation that becomes more than awkward. As if it’s not distressing and annoying enough to be reminded of the Shoa and the loss of loved ones. The question: “What do you think about the settlements in the West Banks, are you for or against Israel?” Or even worse, leaving you no choice for an answer: “Why is Israel doing this or that? Aren’t you ashamed? And by the way: Do you guys have the A-bomb or don’t you?” ...
Well, these kinds of questions occur to everyone of us once in a while. Sometimes more, sometimes less.
Do you see why people ask these questions?
It’s not because they know about the widespread diversity of Judaism or Israel’s colourful traditon and culture or the differences and similarities between Israel and the Diaspora. Not to mention anything about Shabbat or Pessach, Rosh Hashana or Yom Kippur or the solemn atmosphere in a synagoge during services.
All they know is what they have seen or read in their own country, in their local medias or heard in bars. They only know a little about the politics and the Shoa.
For them, we not only represent Judaism. We also, and for most of them, represent solely the state of Israel in everything we do, say, laugh about, talk about and worry about. In our every day behaviour we represent Judaism and the state of Israel. The way we behave, some will say that’s the way the Jews behave. That’s the way Israel thinks. If you are ruthless to somebody, its not just you who behaves like that. It’s the Jews who behave like that, it’s Israel who behaves ruthlessly.
Always keep that in mind. This does not mean, that you should hide your religion, your beliefs or where you come from, it just means that you should remember that the next time when you yell at your neighbour because his music is to loud, or you are mad at your fellow employee because something went wrong.
One should behave like the prophets and the wise and the way our parents raised us. Be nice in every single way, to everybody you meet, you talk to, you see. Do your part in tikkun olam (repairing the world) and take action.
You are responsible for your actions, more than you probably thought.