Chizuk from an Atheist

As I sat down to write my article for the Queens Jewish Link, I heard my cellphone make a weird noise. Years ago, I used to get nervous when electronic gadgets made weird noises but in 2013, it simply means that a new message came in. I looked at who the message was from and was pleasantly surprised to see it came from my dear friend Moshe Feiglin. As you know, Moshe and I started “Manhigut Yehudit” (The Jewish Leadership Movement) together and Baruch Hashem, Moshe is a very active Knesset Member as well as Deputy Speaker of the House. The message simply read: “Shmuel, you must read this. Messages like this give me strength and the motivation to keep going. I needed to share it with you.”

After reading what Moshe forwarded to me, I decided not to write an article of my own but to simply send this letter to the publisher. The letter is simply remarkable. It was written in Hebrew by an Israeli who is an admitted atheist. So why am I sending an atheist’s letter to the Queens Jewish Link? Read it and find out. I will add my comments at the bottom.

Dear Moshe,

I must tell you that until I saw you speaking over the last months, I had lost all interest, faith, love and desire to remain in Israel. Most years, I did not even trouble myself to go and vote, because I knew that there was no hope for the world and for the rotten country in which I live. I thought that there was no reason to take action because I was not planning to continue to live here. I just wanted to finish my degree and escape the stupidity and craziness.

I still have the same opinions today, but with one major change: You gave me hope; hope that when my generation gets into the government (if at all) they will say worthy things from the Knesset podium; hope that there are other people in the government who understand that the justification for their existence is for them to act and fight for the good of the citizens of the country. You have no idea how refreshing it is to hear a Member of Knesset speaking so rationally, eloquently, passionately and with such wisdom. It began for me when you were the first who did not fear to publicly speak about the profits of the drug companies (to be honest, I thought that it would lead to attempts on your life). My admiration grew when you displayed expertise in each of the reports and studies on medical cannabis (finally somebody was using facts and science to base his claims, and not whims and emotions). It continues with every deliberation, Knesset committee meeting or media appearance that I watch.

You have restored my faith that perhaps one day we really will be a free people in our land. As an extreme atheist, I must say that you also kindled within me something positive about anything that has to do with religion. It is so nice to hear you speak of human liberty as a supreme value, about separation of religion and state and the senselessness of coercing one way of life on all the citizens whether or not they have chosen it. The main message that you project is of acceptance, tolerance, help for others and love of mankind; a message that, if it would be assimilated by all, even an atheist like me would be able to be proud of the fact that I was born and live in a Jewish state.

May there be more people like you in the government and in the world.

Don’t give up! Clear logic will prevail and one day we will all sit together and barbeque, not on Shabbat!

If only the present prime minister would know how many votes and what positive public relations one intelligent person in his party can bring in, maybe he would trouble himself to find and put in others like you. In the next elections, I will vote for whatever party you belong to. May I see you one day as prime minister. It won’t hurt me to have something to be proud of when I think of the State of Israel.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

That’s the letter. An “extreme atheist” thanking Moshe for giving him hope, restoring him with faith and making him proud to – one day – live in a Jewish state. Can you imagine that?

Now, thanks to this letter my life has become a lot easier. Instead of my usual 15 minute speech to answer a basic question; “Hey, Shmuel – what is Manhigut Yehudit all about?” all I need to do is have them read this letter! It makes it all worth it.