Today, we celebrate the 100 year anniversary of the Balfour Declaration. On November 2, 1917, British Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour sent a letter to Lord Rothschild, a prominent Zionist and a friend of Chaim Weizmann, stating that: “His Majesty’s Government view with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.” In essence, we met a modern Abraham, who opened a tent for all those to enter. The Rabbis ask, “Why was Lot adjudged a wicked man. Had he not, like Abraham extended unusual hospitality when the same strangers visited him?” The Torah teaches that Lot knew at once the strangers were angels. Abraham did not know, but he still invited them in as they were in need of hospitality.
It is easy to welcome a king into your midst. It is difficult to welcome your neighbor, your co-worker, and a stranger. Balfour had a vision: to help return a people to their homeland. With hindsight, we know it took 31 years to achieve, but we can only imagine what our lives would look like if Balfour did not have the courage to pen his letter, to open the door of welcoming.
It is 100 years later, and we must still defend Balfour’s action. Today, Israel strives to be the Abraham of our day; opening its tents to the stranger, repairing the world one moment at a time. Abraham was welcoming thousands of years ago. Balfour was welcoming 100 years ago. We can be welcoming today.