Anyway, this being about One People, Shema is a declaration of G-d’s Oneness.
My mother also said that we, the Jewish People are one people.
My cousins, who are Orthodox, never gave me any reason to suspect that this wasn’t true. Even though we weren’t as observant as they were, we were all Jews, all One People. There wasn't any judging. They kept more of the rules, but we all still watched the Wizard of Oz together, and we still had Thanksgiving together and the same Zaidie, our grandfather, gave us all real silver dollars for finding the afikomen (the matzah dessert) on Passover.
I had no no idea at that time, that there were people who would disagree so vehemently over the “truth” of Jewish denominations, that they wouldn’t share the same pulpit, the same stage, the same forum with one another. They disagreed and feared one another so much that they wouldn’t even bother talking about differences with one another.
Everyone agrees that everyone who is Jewish has the pintela yid . It’s there, behind the costumes. What’s the pintela yid? A very modest, but dominant force field that emanates from a Jewish person’s soul. I think it’s probably located in the heart. It says, I’m a Jew.
What my cousins understood, and communicated to me, is that it isn't how observant a person is that matters, it is how that person really behaves. Derech eretz, doing the right thing, being a mentch, is what makes the Jew.