I Am a Jew: Bari Weiss's Powerful Speech

The Jewish people were not put on Earth to be anti-anti-Semites. We were put on Earth to be Jews.


New York Times columnist Bari Weiss gave the following powerful speech at the No Hate, No Fear solidarity march in New York. There were an estimated 25,000 people in attendance protesting the recent outbreak of anti-Semitic attacks.

I Am a Jew: Bari Weiss's Powerful Speech

I Am a Jew: Bari Weiss's Powerful Speech

My name is Bari Weiss.

I am a proud American. I am a proud New Yorker. And I am a proud Jew.

I am not a Jew because people hate my religion, my people, and my civilization.

Not for a single moment does Jew-hatred, like the kind we are seeing in this city, make me a Jew.

I am a Jew because of the audacity and the iconoclasm of Abraham, the first Jew of all. The whole world was awash in idols and he stood alone to proclaim the truth: There is one God.

I am a Jew because my ancestors were slaves. And I am a Jew because the story of their Exodus from Egypt, their liberation from slavery, is a story that changed human consciousness forever.

I am a Jew because our God commands us to never oppress the stranger.

I am Jew because Ruth, the first convert to Judaism, told her mother-in-law Naomi, “your people will be my people and your God will be my God,” reminding us of the centrality of the Jewish people to Judaism.

I am a Jew because of Queen Esther, who understood that she had attained her royal position in order to save her people from destruction.

I am a Jew because the Maccabees were the original resistance. Because they modeled for us – and for all peoples – how to resist the temptation of self-erasure.

I am a Jew because when Rabbi Akiva was being tortured to death by the Romans he laughed. He laughed and he told his students that he could finally fulfill the commandment to love God with all of his being.

I am a Jew because even after the heart of Judaism and Jewish sovereignty were destroyed my people refused to accept the logic of history and disappear. And I am a Jew because some of our greatest renewals took place in exile.

I am a Jew because my people has been targeted and despised and murdered by the Nazis and Soviets.

I am a Jew because evil hates my people.

I am a Jew because my people managed to turn destruction into redemption by returning to their land after 2,000 years.

I am a Jew because our Founders saw themselves as new Israelites.

I am a Jew because the biblical words on the liberty bell – proclaim liberty throughout the land! – rang out from the righteous mouths of this country’s abolitionists as they fought for universal freedom in this New Jerusalem.

I am a Jew because it was Emma Lazarus who etched the biblical injunction to welcome the stranger onto the consciousness of America when she wrote the words: “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

I am a Jew because of the martyred of Tree of Life and Chabad of Poway and Jersey City. And I am a Jew because of the courage of those who fought back in Monsey and who then, immediately after the attack, gathered together to sing. And I am Jew because my brothers and sisters in Crown Heights and Boro Park and Williamsburg who refuse to hide their Judaism.

I am a Jew because of students across this country who refuse to be smeared and denigrated because of who they are, who are standing up against humiliation, pressure and abuse to affirm the justness of Zionism.

I am a Jew because my brothers and sisters in England and France are battling the anti-Semitism of populist thugs and the anti-Semitism of politicians in parliament.

I am a Jew because I refuse to stay silent in the face of injustice. I am a Jew because I have no patience for leaders who speak boldly while failing to take the actions necessary to protect our community. Or for partisan hacks that claim anti-Semitism is the exclusive domain of their political opponents. Or for leaders who believe they can fight Jew-hatred while making political alliances with anti-Semites.

I am a Jew because I refuse to lie.

I am a Jew because Jews are of every color and class and politics and language. And I am a Jew because hatred of us has no color or class or politics or language.

I am a Jew because Jews do not cause Jew hatred. Ever.

Today, as in so many times in history, there are many forces in the world insisting that Jews must disappear or die. Some say it bluntly. Some cloak it in the language of progress.

But I am a Jew because of I know that there is force far greater than that. And that is the force of who we are and the force of our world-changing ideas.

The Jewish people were not put on Earth to be anti-anti-Semites. We were put on Earth to be

Jews.

We are the people whose God never slumbers or sleeps, and so neither can we.

We are the lamp-lighters.

We are the ever-dying people that refuses to die.

The people of Israel lives now and forever.

Am Yisrael Chai.

With thanks to Jewishmom.com


Comments (43)

(30) Miriam, January 28, 2020 5:17 PM

Am Yisrael chai

Have we not learned anything from past! Please stop blaming Jews for all worlds problems, maybe next time you meet a Jewish person show kindness because hatred never solves anything, we are not perfect people just human beings who deserve same respect. Thanks Shalom

(29) Patrick Doherty, January 25, 2020 7:00 PM

Well done to that girl Jew

Well done for what you said and the way that it was said that is the way to really tell it. I am glad to have heard it expressed so clearly and with such conviction.

(28) Anonymous, January 25, 2020 11:33 AM

An inspiration and instruction booklet for us all.many thanks

(27) rachel shillingford, January 24, 2020 2:43 PM

WoW

CHILLS, TEARS AND REPOSTING THIS EVERYWHERE I CAN!!

(26) Bracha, January 24, 2020 12:18 AM

Did anyone else notice...?

Im not sure what to make of this. The sign language interpreter used a motion of stroking an invisible beard to interpret the word 'Jew". Stereotype? What are your thoughts? Thanks

Raymond, January 25, 2020 6:09 PM

List of Priorities

I think that such an interpretation is either looking into things a bit too deeply or perhaps even finding something that is simply not there. and even if it is, so what? Stereotyping Jews as being nothing but a bunch of beard-stroking Torah scholars is not a bad thing at all. It is high praise that we Jews aspire to become. So no, I it is not on my list of priorities of things or me to worry about.

Anonymous, January 29, 2020 3:13 PM

You're right

That is the sign, I believe in other countries the sign for Jews involves long noses;)

(25) Anonymous, January 22, 2020 5:59 AM

If Bari Weiss is a proud Jew why does she work for the New York Times?

Regina, January 23, 2020 12:05 AM

GOOD QUESTION...

,,,what has she said, written or done to stand in opposition to their anti-Jewish content??

(24) Anonymous, January 22, 2020 3:23 AM

I am a Jew for all of Bari Weis's reasons. And more.

I am a Jew even among so-called liberal but actual self-hating Jews. I am a Jew who renewed my Judaism with Aish courses and who read Torah with Rabbi Jonathan Feldman. I am a Jew who founded and led a Chavurah on the Upper West Side of New York and was called a "lay rabbi." I am a Jew who knows and is proud of who I am.

(23) Meyer, January 21, 2020 6:17 PM

Powerful

bS'D
Shalom Bari:
Yasher Koach on your heartfelt words. For your (or anyone else's) next "speech", a suggestion. JEW is the first 3 letters of.......Jewel!!!!

(22) Barry Baldonieri, January 21, 2020 4:05 PM

I AM A JEW !

This video should be seen everywhere to remind all of us ! I was not born a Jew, I am a convert who absolutely believes that I've done the most important thing EVER in my entire life ... I AM A JEW !!!!!!

(21) Anonymous, January 21, 2020 3:41 PM

Choice of words

She’s Jewish either because her mother was or she converted. What Ms. Weiss should have said is she’s proud to be Jewish and she should have reflected on all the reasons she identified.

(20) Diana, January 21, 2020 1:14 PM

Forgot SOMETHING

Too many reasons lose the point. We are Jews, because Hashem selected us to his people, kingdom of Kohanim, in the LAND of ISRAEL.

Anonymous, January 23, 2020 12:06 AM

CORRECT

Less is more, and you hit the bullseye.
AM YISROEL CHAI!

(19) Anonymous, January 20, 2020 6:42 PM

wow!

So powerful!
When Jews forget that the reason they are hated is because evil hates good, and we are the only source of pure goodness in the world, then it's a shame because the plot is lost....

(18) RM, January 20, 2020 5:55 PM

I am dismayed and disheartened right from the get go by the opening line of this "proud jewess's" speech. Where is her pride in her people and in her yehadut if she, directly from the onset of her speech, relegates Judaism to third place by stating it after first being American and secondly being a new Yorker? And in opposition to the multitude of claims she makes for why she is Jewish (as they are all inherently quite incorrect) she is Jewish for solely one of two reasons. Either because she was born of a Jewish mother or she converted of her own volition. All else she claimed were simply reasons for her pride in Judaism not for being Jewish. And her claim of Ruth being the first convert is also erroneous as the first true convert to Judaism was also it's "founder" ie Abraham himself. Additionally, it is because of such thought processes and loyalty to a fatherland rather than yehadut itself that many claim ultimately resulted in the Holocaust.

Raymond, January 20, 2020 8:21 PM

Through the Looking Glass

This reminds me of the political divide concerning our current President. When I hear people find nothing good to say about President Trump, it is as if such people live in an entirely different universe from my own. I often do not even recognize who they are talking about, as their conception of President is so completely at odds with my own view of him.

And similarly here, but this time, the person in question is Bari Weiss. As I wrote elsewhere on this thread, I had no previous knowledge of the woman, yet in hearing her speak here, I was simply overwhelmed by her sheer brilliance, the courage it took to speak her words, the tremendous pride she feels in being Jewish, and so on. And yet here all I read are unceasing criticisms of her, all of which so much do not apply to Bari Weiss, that it is as if we have seen two entirely different videos about two entirely different people. Well, this is America, where people are free to express themselves as they see fit, and so all that is left for me to do at this point is to sit here in wonder at the human condition.

(17) Anonymous, January 20, 2020 4:52 PM

correction

nice, but would like to remind everyone that Avriham Avinu also made converts and Moshe Rabinu (eg. Yitro) so Ruth while notable and beloved was not the "first" convert

(16) Lisa igra kosta, January 20, 2020 3:33 PM

Exceptional speech

What puzzles me is that she works for an anti Israel news paper.

(15) Jenny Grimshaw, January 20, 2020 10:26 AM

Wonderfully written

What an amazing challenging speech. The courage to stand and declare the truth, so inspiring.

(14) Solomons malcolm, January 20, 2020 8:56 AM

She should also say I am a Jew because I am proud of the wonderful achievements my people have done for humanity so disperpotunate to our numbers .The antisemites needto be told our true history in medicine coulture music science without us the wolrld would be living like barbarians

Anonymous, January 23, 2020 12:08 AM

Well-said...

...and many more of them would have died of horrible diseases and more.

AM YISROEL CHAI!

(13) Marcel, January 20, 2020 8:15 AM

Brilliant speech!

I agree fully with her, and I am proud to support Israel. And I am proud to support the Jewish nation, and Jews all over the world. I will never forget my one boss that I had. His mother was Jewish. And that man treated me the way, one human should treat another human. With respect, humility and understanding, even if we are different. Shalom.

(12) Goldy, January 20, 2020 7:47 AM

Brilliant!

(11) Anonymous, January 20, 2020 4:26 AM

Spectacular speech

Pittsburgh and the world should treasure this bright young journalist.

(10) Laura, January 20, 2020 4:05 AM

Way to go, Bari! Not only are you a great Jew, you are a great person!

(9) Anne Snyder, January 20, 2020 1:44 AM

No one could say it better.

I am proud to be a Jew and proud that Bari Weiss is a Jew. I’m in good company. Love you Bari

(8) Raymond, January 19, 2020 11:35 PM

Speechless in Los Angeles

Wow. I usually do not lack for words, but after hearing Bari Weiss' absolutely brilliant, fantastic speech here, she has rendered me speechless. I do not see any way that I can improve on, or offer anything that she has not already said here. I had never even heard of her before, but I predict she will be successful in her life, no matter what she decides to do with it. Her book on antisemitism has now been added to books that I hope to read one day.

(7) Dvirah, January 19, 2020 7:20 PM

Warning Sign

Antisemitism is one sign of a decaying society. When the people of that society no longer have the courage to admit and solve the problems that confront all societies, but look for someone to blame instead; instead of rising to the challenge they convince themselves that the problems are all due to the existence of the Jews, so if they drive out the Jews the problems will go away. And so the Jews are driven away by harrassment or government decree - and the society finds itself with all the problems it had previously, and no one to solve them. And decays, falls apart, and disappears.

Raymond, January 19, 2020 11:39 PM

Absolutely Brilliant Observation

Wow. I now find myself humbled for the second time on this singular thread, overwhelmed by the wise observation made by Dvirah here. I will have to think about what she said here for some time to come. I think her words have hit the proverbial nail on its head.

Dvirah, January 20, 2020 5:32 PM

Thank you.

Thank you.

(6) Sara Yoheved Rigler, January 19, 2020 7:11 PM

The best short speech since the Gettysburg Address!

Anonymous, January 19, 2020 11:45 PM

With Malice Toward None

Since the Gettysburg Address is invoked here, written and spoken, of course, by President Abraham Lincoln, who just so happens to be my favorite non-Jew of all time, I feel compelled to write here the very last and most memorable part of what some people consider to be his most brilliant speech of all, namely his Second Inaugural Address. Perhaps in some way, those words can be relevant here: "With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as G-d gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations."

Raymond Blum, January 19, 2020 11:52 PM

That Was Me

That was me, Raymond, who just wrote that, along with the Lincoln quote. I do not understand why sometimes when I write things on this website, that the word Anonymous appears instead of my real name. It frustrates me, because I devote time and energy in writing what I write on here, and I want to be able to take credit for it, as vain as that may sound.

(5) Anonymous, January 19, 2020 6:38 PM

Powerful speech but is anyone listening?

Nothing will change until the liberal Jew wakes up. Those diverse circle of friends vanish when their race is doing the hating. Ditto the mainstream media. As long as the silence is tolerated when the victims are hasids liberal Jews have nothing to be proud of. Hollywood and jewish liberal stood by in the pogrom in brooklyn under dinkins. They are doing nothing now. Her speech is powerful but just a leaf in the wind

Nancy, January 20, 2020 11:57 AM

To commenter #5 Anonymous

Please read my comment #1. With that said, I would describe my views as being moderate. However, I am respectful of those who disagree with me as long as no name calling is involved.

(4) Jay H, January 19, 2020 6:22 PM

Very well said

Bari expressed a wonderful thought. We may not all agree politically about words or deeds in the US or Israel but we need to act like one people/ one family and support each other. We can lovingly disagree with each other and help try to bring each other closer to God, closer to an appreciation of the blessing of Israel, and perhaps by modeling a religious life imbued with Torah values, bring each other to a more connected observance of our religion. The strength of our unity, with God’s help will help us educate our enemies and defeat them if necessary.

susan, January 21, 2020 2:26 PM

MY REPLY TO reply #4 .... Jan. 19. '2020.

(4) VERY WELL SAID:
Jay H.
My reply to your comment is, simply - VERY WELL SAID. I agree with you. Your comment rings 'loud and clear'. Or is it: "A soft, quiet voice" - one that declares the obvious TRUTH. From beginning to end. Like: "we may not all agree [etc.]" And, "The strength of our UNITY, with G-d's help [ !!! ] will help us EDUCATE our enemies and defeat them [-]. AMEN !

(3) Anthony Bilmes, January 19, 2020 5:16 PM

Thank you Bari for giving voice to the beliefs of our entire people and for doing so with both force and eloquence, simply and sincerely. Being a Jew should not equate to anti-antisemitism but should allow us to be for the good we have to offer. Thank you again from the UK. Anthony

(2) Ra'anan, January 19, 2020 3:48 PM

thank you, BARI WEISS!!!

thank you, BARI WEISS!!!

(1) Nancy, January 19, 2020 1:29 PM

Re: Cloaking anti Semitism in the language of progress

That actually makes me feel more angry than hearing an anti Semitic slur. When someone expresses his/her hate directly, it is much easier to stand up to that person. Cloaking anti Semitism in the name of so called progress is gas lighting, and we know how dangerous gas lighting is. Thank you Bari Weiss!!

Anonymous, January 25, 2020 6:10 PM

Name Calling

So how is asking you for an example of your political moderation translate into name calling? I am still trying to figure out that one.

 

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