I recently watched the video "Acheinu" at https://www.facebook.com/seeyouonshabbos/videos/2110243472338046/ and my reaction was the same as the one I would expect from most caring Jews -- and there would be good reasons for such a reaction. I was deeply touched by the exchange portrayed in the video and felt most positive about the conclusion and, most importantly, the concluding, continuing message.
Upon contemplation, though, I found many challenges embedded in the video -- challenges that do not necessarily override the important message of the video but nonetheless need to be addressed if the video is ultimately going to have any real impact. The video touches the emotions but, to truly be effective, it must also enter into the realm of thought. The issues raised in the video are actually very deep and, as much as people may believe that answers to Jewish unity and Jewish identity can be attained through the emotions, this is not the actual case. Applying the terms employed by Rabbi Jospeh B. Soloveitchik, Kol Dodi Dofek in his discussion of Jewish identity, we cannot limit ourselves to only consider our shared 'fate' but we must also fully contemplate and investigate the idea of our shared 'destiny'. In this regard, to answer the question of 'why I am a Jew?', I have to have some definition of what it means to be a Jew.
It is only in the realm of 'fate' that an Adolf Hitler ys"v can have a voice in defining Jewishness and this is a problem for many reasons. In a world where Jewishness cannot be imposed on anyone and one must effectively choose to be Jewish, the reality of such choice furthermore demands that one must arrive at some personal understanding of what Jewishness is so that one can make this choice. Beyond this reality that choice does exist, though, a strong personal commitment to this identity is actually only possible if one finds personal meaning in such identity. This, also, is the further challenge of Jewish unity. As individuals develop their personal understandings of what it means to be a Jew -- and, furthermore, find personal meaning in these possibly divergent definitions -- unity is only possible if these variant definitions can possibly converge. We must then necessarily also turn to thought to find the broader definition of Jewish identity, beyond the parameters of our personal definition, that can join us together -- if such a definition indeed does exist.
In hearing any argument that Hitler taught us that all Jews are brothers and sisters, we must also remember that part of this lesson would also include the fact that Edith Stein also died at Auschwitz. This, indeed, must also be part of the lesson of shared 'fate' and on this level, she is indeed part of our people. This also highlights, however, the issue of shared 'destiny'. This video must demand of us to go beyond the video.
Rabbi Ben Hecht