To be a Jew is to be part of Israel – to belong to a people on a journey of ongoing self exploration and self improvement – a project of self transformation whose ultimate aim is the transformation of the world according to justice, mercy, and love.

Israel is therefore a multidimensional reality – it is a way of being (wrestling with goodness, life, justice, etc.), it is a people (spiritual community) who embrace that transformative way of being, and it is an actual place, a land (the Nation of Israel).

Israel in all its forms is at it’s best when it heeds the wisdom of Hillel. “What is hateful to you do not do to another. This is the whole of the Torah; all the rest is commentary. Now go and study it.” (Tractate Shabbat 32a).

The entire Torah, the entirety of Judaism, is a guide to compassion when we read and live it as such. If your reading of Torah and/or your living of Judaism does not make you more just, loving, and humble then you are misreading Torah and not living Judaism.

To be part of Israel is to be one who wrestles with living a life of love and meaning.