Heed Brandeis’ call to be better Jews

Heed Brandeis’ call to be better Jews

One hundred years ago, the great jurist Louis D. Brandeis was appointed to the Supreme Court of the United States. Brandeis was the first Jew to serve on that court.

Brandeis was a nonobservant Jew, even a nonreligious one. And yet, he became the leader of American Zionism. He came to understand the centrality of Israel to Jewish redemption. Brandeis said,“To be good Americans, we must be better Jews, and to be better Jews, we must become Zionists.”

Brandeis did not have to stand up for the Jewish people. But he did.

Ask yourself: What are you doing to stand up for our people?

The Talmud states, kol yisrael areivim zeh b’zeh, “All of the Jewish people are responsible for one another.”

Recently, we observed Yom HaShoah and remembered our 6 million brothers and sisters who died in the Holocaust. Then, we paused for Yom Hazikaron and reflected on the sacrifices of those who fell in the defense of Israel. And then we celebrated Yom Ha’atzmaut, the 68th birthday of the reborn Jewish state.

Right now, your brothers and sisters are under attack for being Jews in Israel, in Europe and right here in the United States. What are you doing about it?

On American college campuses, anti-Semitism rears its ugly head under the guise of anti-Zionism, the thin veneer of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.

You are comfortable. You are secure. But will your children and grandchildren be comfortable and secure? What kind of Jewish future will you leave to them?

Do not be silent. Stand up for the Jewish people. Stand up for the Jewish state.

Take your family to visit Israel. Study there. Help your children and grandchildren to study there. Support organizations that fight BDS and anti-Semitism. Support Jewish day schools. Support Jewish summer camps. Support our elderly. Teach our Jewish youth ahavat yisrael — the love of Israel and the Jewish people.

Justice Louis Brandeis did great things for the law and for the United States. He did these things not despite his Jewishness, but because of it.

Think about it.

David Wecht is an associate justice of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. This article is adapted from remarks he delivered in Philadelphia on the occasion of Jewish Law Day on May 10.