More than 300 years ago King Louis XIV of France asked Blaise Pascal, the great French philosopher, to give him proof of the supernatural. Pascal answered: “Why, the Jews, your Majesty — the Jews.”
How can the Jewish people survive so much adversity for so long? Pascal continued. “It must be from the help of God. It is beyond human comprehension.”
Fast forward into the 21st century and Nazi Germany. Even after unthinkable persecution in a killing machine of unthinkable proportions, so many Jews across Europe managed to survive, eventually fleeing to Israel and America.
Nearly two years of meetings between cemetery owners, rabbis, and state legislators have produced their first concrete result: Three cemetery owners have signed an agreement that will smooth the way to burials on Sundays and legal holidays, and end the requirement of cash payments to cemeteries that are not equipped to take credit cards.
The rabbis, however, have yet to take a position on the agreement.
Beth Israel Cemetery, Cedar Park Cemetery, and Riverside Cemetery, whose representatives signed the agreement, are among the leading Jewish cemeteries in the state.
It’s not exactly a case of being careful about what you wish for in this case — but it’s not entirely different either.
Often — increasingly — young diaspora Jews go to Israel to join the army, full of idealistic fervor. They find a chance to serve the Jewish people and the Jewish state, and to challenge themselves at the same time.
It is noble and often transforming. The army is the blast furnace that melds people into lifelong relationships. It is the smelter that refines them into being more of exactly who they are.