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.
My hope and prayer is that this is just a small microcosm of friendship and peace that can spread in all communities, societies, nations, and lands, so that we are no longer black or white, Jew, Muslim, or Christian, or any other divisive label, but rather that we are all children of G-d, and plain and simple, friends.
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.
If some “religious” people do the wrong thing, disrespect their fellow Jews, hate on them, curse them, defile their prayers, that doesn’t mean they are really religious. Rather to the contrary — they are the irreligious religious!
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.