Photo Credit: Ayin Tova

When Hashem first appears to Moshe at the burning bush, he orders Moshe to set out on the mission to bring the enslaved Jews out of Egypt and lead them to the Promised Land. Faithfully, Moshe confronts Pharaoh and conveys Hashem’s command to “Let My People go!” This cry of freedom became the cry during the struggle for Soviet Jewry – “Let My People go!” Today the cry of the Jewish leadership throughout the Diaspora has been twisted into the very opposite: “Let my people stay!”

Instead of longing for freedom in the Jewish Homeland, the Jews who remain in gentile lands cry out “Let us stay here amongst the gentiles in a foreign land, in a land not our own!” They demand their democratic right as citizens of America and France and England and Belgium to remain faithful citizens of these gentile countries, free to live there in liberty and equality like everyone else. But they are not citizens like everyone else – they are Jews – strangers in strange lands. And now with the explosion of anti-Semitism throughout the world, Diaspora Jews cry out: “Let my people stay!”


The Jewish Federations of North America cries out “Let my people stay!” The American Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations cries out “Let my people stay!” The American Jewish Congress cries out “Let my people stay!” B’nai B’rith International cries out “Let my people stay!” The American Reform and Conservative Movements cry out “Let my people stay!” The Rabbinical Council of America cries out “Let my people stay!” Modern Orthodox communities throughout America cry out “Let my people stay!” The Lubavitch Organization cries out “Let my people stay!” The Anti-Defamation League cries out “Let my people stay!” Jewish organizations and pro-Israel advocacy groups on college campuses cry out “Let my people stay!” American Jewish Newspapers cry out “Let my people stay!” The great benefactors of American Jewry cry out “Let my people stay!”

Even though the pavement is burning under their feet, the Jews of America cry out “Let my people stay!” “Let us remain loyal Americans,” they plead. “Don’t force us to move to Israel. Don’t force us to make Aliyah. The Torah has changed! The G-d of Israel has changed! We are no longer the Children of Israel! We are the Children of America and England and Australia and of Germany. Let us remain in a land not our own as a loyal minority. The temporary hatred will pass.”

Obviously, this great yearning for foreign lands is the antithesis of Torah which teaches us to always yearn for Jerusalem and for life in our own Jewish Homeland. Tragically, we have forgotten who we are. But Hashem has not forgotten. Just as He sent the blows of the Egyptian slave masters, He is sending the blows of today’s anti-Semites to remind us who we are. To remind us that we don’t belong in foreign gentile lands, just as He reminded us time and again in our wanderings across the globe whenever we believed that we had finally found refuge in a friendly gentile land.

It is almost too late to avoid the inevitable. Yet there is still a chance. With great courage and by accepting the truth of Jewish destiny, we can change the cry of “Let my people stay!” back to the original cry of “Let My People go!” As the Prophet proclaims, “For from Zion shall go forth the Torah, and the word of the L-rd from Jerusalem.”

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Tzvi Fishman was awarded the Israel Ministry of Education Prize for Creativity and Jewish Culture for his novel "Tevye in the Promised Land." A wide selection of his books are available at Amazon. His recent movie "Stories of Rebbe Nachman" The DVD of the movie is available online.