Long before Israel became a powerful high-tech state, humble Jewish heroes like Sam Schulman secured the Jewish national rebirth in Israel.
By Daniel Krygier
Sam Schulman, the last surviving American crew member of the legendary ”Exodus” ship, passed away Friday at 91. Schulman had volunteered to assist bringing Jewish refugees to pre-state Israel in 1947.
Also recently, Babylon in Iraq was recently put on the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites. In Jewish history, Babylon is a symbol of Jewish homelessness and powerlessness. By contrast, modern Zionism’s greatest achievement is the Jewish return home to Zion and the restoration of Jewish power to defend itself by itself.
In the long history of the Jewish people, few events have been more traumatic than the Babylonian captivity. In 605 BCE, the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar besieged Jerusalem and deported Jews as slaves to Babylon.
The Book of Psalms recalls the forced Babylonian exile in Jewish history: “By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion.” (Psalm 137)
Like the ancient Egyptians, Persians, Greeks and Romans, the Babylonian empire is long gone. What remains of Babylon are ruins in the desert of modern Iraq. Yet the Jewish people has miraculously survived more onslaughts than virtually any other nation on earth.
The famous American writer Mark Twain was fascinated by the Jewish ability to survive against all odds: “All things are mortal but the Jews; all other forces pass, but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?”
In fact, the Jewish people did not merely survive seemingly endless persecutions, culminating with the Nazi-perpetrated Holocaust in the 20th century. Against all odds, the Jewish people succeeded in returning to Zion and building a modern and successful state in their ancestral homeland Israel.
Heroes Like Schulman Key to Jewish Survival
Heroes like Sam Schulman are the key to the Jewish People’s miraculous survival. Schulman was born into a Polish Jewish family that survived the Holocaust and moved to America. As Holocaust survivors, his parents were not pleased about their only son’s decision to leave the comforts of America for a dangerous mission in the British Palestine Mandate. However, driven by Zionism and humanitarianism, Schulman saw it as his duty to assist Jewish Holocaust survivors to reach the shores of the Promised Land and a brighter Jewish future.
By putting the plight of the Jewish people ahead of his own comforts, heroes like Schulman played a pivotal role in the homecoming of the Jewish people to Israel.
Today, Israel is a robust economic and military powerhouse. Young Jews and Israel supporters often take the Jewish state’s existence for granted. It is difficult to imagine a time when the existence of the Jewish People and the State of Israel was hanging in the balance.
Long before Israel became a powerful high-tech state and an innovative Start-Up Nation, humble Jewish heroes like Sam Schulman equipped with iron-will determination, wits and courage, secured the Jewish national rebirth in Israel.