Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called “Finding Our Religion.”
The contrast between me being Jewish and the environment that was as broad as the United Nations (actually only a few blocks away), helped me to find myself and to build my personal Jewish identity. So, I think that for those Jews that are afraid for their children to leave the confines of the home, their “shtetl” neighborhood, and the local yeshiva, because they are afraid of the “foreign” (goyish) influences, I think that while that may be right for some Jews possibly, it is definitely not right for all of us.
In a sense, the redemption of the Jewish people and exodus was so much greater a miracle by Moshe becoming this great Jewish leader from within the fires of the Egyptian paganism at the time. Moshe’s rejectionism of Egyptian power and culture used for evil to enslave and hurt others was a powerful choice of good over evil and a message to Pharaoh and his household that despite all his wealth, strength, and influence, that Pharaoh and Egypt would fall before the hand of the true, Almighty G-d of Israel. Similarly, I think the message for us is that the final redemption for us and the world will come initially from “galut” (outside of Israel) from the cauldron of “Edom” (the Roman Empire and Western civilization) and all the materialist and pleasurable freedoms and allures thereof.
(Credit Painting: Dossy Blumenthal)