Shema yisrael adonai eloheinu

Adonai echad

Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God,

The Lord is one.

Jay Rockman is a freshman at USC and a dedicated follower of Jewish religion and tradition. His mother is Israeli, and as a child he learned to speak Hebrew. From grades 6-12 he attend Milken Community School, a prestigious private school in Calabasas, CA that integrates Jewish education into its curriculum. According to Jay, they would often sing Jewish hymns and prayers at assemblies or certain classes; the school would combine both the Hebrew text and the English translation into these short hymns. The third and fourth lines of the hymn are normally written in Hebrew characters, with this version containing the phonetic pronunciation of the words.

The “Shema” is the most sacred Hebrew hymn, as it provides a general framework for the indispensable principles of the Jewish religion. The central concept is the idea that God is “one,” but this can be interpreted in multiple ways. First and foremost, the prayer stresses monotheism, meaning that the Jewish people cannot pray to anyone but God (meaning they cannot have idols or statues). Also, the “Shema” discusses God’s omnipotence, claiming that there truly is no barrier between God and the natural world; instead, the Lord is “One” with everything He has created. Thus, to disrespect the Earth or other human beings is to directly disrespect the Lord. Finally, the hymn speaks to the land of Israel, as it is considered the homeland of the Jewish people, meaning that every Jew has a direct connection to the land. While there has been tremendous controversy over who should have sovereignty over the holy land of Israel, the “Shema” certainly confirms the location as an indispensable aspect of Jewish culture. These ancient texts certainly explain why the Israelis are so protective of their land, as they are directly commanded by God to represent and protect the holy territory.