Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called “Pop Culture Just Doesn’t ‘Get’ Us.”Of course, when Jews are hypocrites, act holier than thou, or do bad things, they give the rest of us a bad name, and this can breed not only confusion about Jews but also, in the extreme, hate and anti-Semitism. One Chabad Rabbi said today that the Rebbe hardly ever used the word anti-Semitism or spoke of it; instead, he focused on the idea that Jews should do good and perform acts of G-dliness and righteousness in the world.
I believe we can all agree that Jews behave differently; sometimes they do good, sometimes they don’t, but regardless, we’re a little bit of a mystery to many non-Jews, which is sometimes shrouded in a large dose of fiction and conspiracy. For many, I put it this way: they still can’t understand why the fiddler was ever playing on the roof to begin with.
Modern Hellenism is when Judaism becomes less and less Jewish and more and more like another “value system” that is “politically correct” or “in style.”
To be clear, not every Jew is going to be “religious” in the same way, but still, each of us can contribute to the welfare of the whole. The point of Hanukkah is that Torah-true Judaism exists, even if we as individuals struggle to fulfill it. The task at hand is for each family and each of us to model proper behavior (thought, word, and deed) and to educate our children in the same so that the Greeks of our time do not win.
I was literally sitting in the synagogue and crying, watching the speaker sign and listening to the voice from the interpreter. I really believe that all our synagogues, schools, work places, and organizations need to better incorporate diversity and disability into the environment, and not just by paying meaningless lip-service to it, but by enabling everyone to come, feel welcome, participate, and be together as all children of G-d naturally should be.
Finally, it was beautiful to have the synagogue let someone who was deaf have the pulpit and the ability to speak to us. It would be so awesome for everyone’s voice to be heard. We take our abilities (such as speaking, hearing, and being mobile) for granted. So let’s design the community with all the people in mind and give everyone a true voice. In the end, it’s not just what they say, but some things are communicated more than words.
Jews place their faith in G-d rather than massive building structures, the strongest foundations, and incalculable amounts of concrete and rebar. Instead, we sit in the flimsy and temporary sukkah to remember that G-d is our ultimate stronghold.
Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called “A Beautiful Song From The Guardians of Zion.”I was very moved by the Israeli police, who have dangerous jobs defending the borders and the cities of the Holy Land, yet singing unburdened about our home and heart!
The Jewish people are an incredible tapestry of amazing people from all over the world.
It didn’t matter what race or nationality the person who had been hit by the car was, she was a human being in pain and who needed the help of others. We Jews need to remember that this is life in a nutshell. Life can change in split instance for better or G-d forbid, for worse. We need one another. No man is an island. We can’t afford to play holier than thou with anyone else. Only G-d can judge who is really “religious” and who is wanting.
It brought to my mind the irony that with the Jewish people, we are a small minority in the world, and yet we often disagree, fight, and can be intolerant and neglectful of one another despite facing anti-Semitism and other crises. This is far from the ideal of demonstrating love and acceptance, unifying ourselves together, and becoming as strong and effective as a “light unto nations” that we could and should be.
We can have our personal and communal ideals and standards, but at the same time have empathy for the journey that people are on. Therefore, we should strive to treat each other with kindness and tolerance and put aside the lofty and phony airs of personal judgement and exclusivity. Because in the end, no one knows who is laying next on the street waiting for that ambulance to come.
While Israel and the Jews are filled with paradoxes from our forefather Abraham to the modern State of Israel, we are a people who try to wear these paradoxes well. We relish our commonalties even as we are proud of our differences and uniqueness. We argue and fight with each to try to get to “the truth of the matter,” and we negotiate, compromise, threaten and cajole to that sometimes elusive end. Paradox is just another word for our survival against all odds and our determination to overcome the blind hate, anti-Semitism, and scapegoating of Jews throughout history. We Jews are individually broken, but together, we are a beautiful, paradoxical mosaic—a little meshuggah (crazy) and with an unfortunate dose of PTSD, but fundamentally good in intent and deed—working to fulfill our optimism, hope, and mission to usher in the universality of G-d in the world and of betterment for humankind.
And what happens to us after creation? Life happens, and people suffer from the happenstance and the often harsh “nurture” of this world. Whether from disease, accidents, or hurt inflicted on us from others — intentional or not — we all have “disabilities” and as difficult as it is to live with it, there is no shame in it!
Disabilities are an opportunity, however painful and humiliating for us to learn and grow and for others to be able to demonstrate love, compassion, and kindness to us…There is no running or hiding from disability, it is part of our mortal world. But from the scars and suffering of life, we must create healing. From disability, it is our job to turn it into ability, capability, and mobility!