Turn Right for the Siyum
Two expressions of a single idea:
1. Post-siyum a picture taken outside the Meadowlands (in New Jersey) showing ‘Racetrack’ and ‘Siyum HaShas’ directional traffic signs side-by-side was widely circulated and re-printed. The caption attached to this picture was ‘anu rotzim v’hem rotzim’, a quote from the siyum text itself meaning, basically, ‘They run to do what They feel is important (the Racetrack) and We run to do what We feel is important (Torah study).’
Something about this caption bothered me, but remained inchoate. I thought maybe it was the fact that the siyum’s venue in the various arenas, using the same facilities and infrastructure as are generally used for decidedly non-Jewish events, was much more of a statement than just the traffic sign; and that somehow using this caption diminished the overall distinction. Then I thought it was the fact that it was so gleefully sent around, raising my fear that We would use the siyum as a whip to denigrate Them. (See Marvin Schick’s April 4th post about how We sometimes talk about Them; I cannot agree more with his sentiments).
Finally we had our neighbors over for Layl Shabbos (Friday Night Dinner) and Mrs. Neighbor saw the picture, for the first time, and exclaimed, “That’s not the right caption! The right caption for that picture should be ‘malchus shel chesed’ (a government of kindness). Bingo. What a Country. My feelings exactly. Can anyone imagine that in Europe 60 years ago or more there would have been hundreds of uniformed police helping us, assisting us, directing traffic, to attend an event of this sort? G-d Bless America. Philo-semitic. It’s been good for the Jews. (No need to comment on the ways in which the freedoms offered in this country have also proven to be most challenging to Jews; that’s very true but not at all the point.)
Dr. Schick, if you’re reading this you may want to stop here.
2. Marvin Schick is afraid of the Christians in this country. On May 30th he wrote here on Cross-Currents “What about racism? …What is emerging is an increasingly expanding comfort zone between Orthodox Jews and right-wingers. Are we forgetful of history? Do we delude ourselves and forget that those on the right include far too many who have articulated anti-Semitic views? Are we forgetful of what Jews experienced for centuries at the hands of devout Christians?”
C’mon. The right is racist but the left is not? If you’re against affirmative action you’re a racist? Where is anti-semitism today, on the left or on the right? Visit Columbia or San Jose State or virtually any other campus; you can also try the EU. The more left the more anti-Semitic. Don’t get caught in a time-warp. It is true that liberal democrats in this country allowed people like Marvin and me to enter into academia and the law, but that doesn’t mean that the current views and policies of the left continue forever to be good for the Jews. Of course it also doesn’t mean that the views and policies of the right are always good for the Jews, but any objective read of where we are today leads to the conclusion that authentic Judaism is more closely aligned with today’s right than today’s left.
The philo-Semitism in this country is unprecedented since the Second Commonwealth, and makes the Golden Age of Spain seem merely like brass in comparison. Stop worrying about Christians and let’s take care of ourselves. Isn’t it interesting that (i) the Democrats’ outreach to Jews is comprised almost entirely of building up fear of Christians as a reason for Jews to stay with the Democrats (admittedly, they do occasionally offer up such gems as the eternal ‘jewish values ‘ of abortion on demand and gay rights, and often couched in terms of Judaism’s ‘pursuit of justice’ – ouch) ; and (ii) the two Jewish demographics most likely to have voted for Bush in ’04 were religious Jews and intermarried Jews, i.e., the two kinds of Jews who, for better and worse, do not fear the impact of Christians on their life goals. The US Congress supports Israel the way it does because of Christian Americans, not because of Jewish Americans. Let the Jewish community spend more energy building Jews and less denigrating Christians. Now that would be good for the Jews.