Judaism is nothing if it is not countercultural, a fierce critique of the world, of its culture, an insistence against all reason and evidence that kindness can still triumph, that justice can win, that peace can arrive and stay.
When Jewish communities and institutions become extensions of the culture, mere conveyances for universally accepted norms, Judaism fails in its most basic, primal mission. When this assimilation takes place, zealots arise to call the soul of the religion back to itself.
These zealots either save Judaism or destroy it. It all depends on their compassion and sense of perspective. If they forget the people and deal only in abstractions, disaster follows. If, however, they act from a sincere heart, with poetry and softness, we enter historical periods of ferocious kindness and holy rebellion.
In this time of daily reminders of the moral and ethical challenges we face, I am hoping for poet-zealots with great senses of humor, kind smiles, and real humility to rise and help us return to our mission.