Racism, Real and Perceived

We don’t have any racists in our community, right?

Of course we do. And, as the political climate changes in the US, we’re going to pay a higher price for whatever racism does exist. To make it worse, the perception of what is racist is changing.

As the interfaith director for the Simon Wiesenthal Center, part of my job is to worry about the support that the Jewish State enjoys from conservative Christians. You’ve heard about that support, and think of it as a done deal, something we can take to the bank of public opinion.

Think again. We’ve been losing some of that support as the clock keeps ticking. Younger evangelicals are less Biblically oriented (and so much of evangelical support flows from the belief that the Bible speaks of a special relationship between G-d, the Jewish people, and their Land), less likely to attend church, less likely to support Israel.

The outlook is gloomy – but not desperate. Some parts of the world are years or even decades behind the forces that are eroding religious commitment in the US. Evangelicals and Pentecostals (another conservative Christian group) are picking up strength in Latin America, Africa, and Asia. (Guatemala moved its embassy to Jerusalem because a new government took over that was top heavy with evangelicals.) They may soon be the people that the Jewish State looks to for support.

There are some groups in the US where the rate of attrition among millennials and even younger people is less than in the rest of the population: Blacks and Hispanics. In both of these communities – at least among conservative churches – there is still great support for Israel.

I was delighted, therefore, to receive an invitation to address about ninety black tourists from the US – almost all first-timers – on a recent visit of theirs to Jerusalem, where I am now based. The pastor leading the group is an old friend, someone who loves Israel, loves Scripture, and is devoting years of his life to partner with the IDF to bring their game-changing techniques in dealing with PTSD back to the inner city.

My presentation was well received – or so I thought. They laughed at the jokes. They seemed to get my points about the racial diversity in Israel, and how all they had to do was open their eyes and they would see how the “apartheid” label wouldn’t stick to reality. They graciously accepted – again, so I thought – my lavish thanks to them for supporting this beleaguered country, and how much we appreciated that support.


Perhaps I should have started worrying earlier, when my host casually mentioned to me before the presentation formally began that at least two members of the group had walked into places and were told that they were not welcome – they assumed, because of their color. And they had been there less than two days. The worrying increased when an Ethiopian spoke of the years of what he perceived as racism he and his family had experienced since arriving – leading him to convert to Christianity.


For the next hour after he finished, the questions and comments were addressed to me. Did I really believe that they were so welcome? My responses were firm and confident (among other things, pointing out that while there was racism that endured, Israel was ahead of the game relative to the US, and we had made far more progress in twenty years than the US made in 150), but it had morphed into where so much of the discussion in the US has: intense identification with a group narrative, born of everyone in that group having shared history and experiences.


Why am I writing all of this in an Anglo-Jewish paper? What does the alleged misconduct of some small part of Israeli society have to do with American Orthodox Jews?


Unfortunately, the answer is simple. And tragic. Their comments quickly turned to their stories of mistreatment at the hands of Jews in the US. Orthodox Jews, in particular. Do keep in mind that these were not Farrakhan supporters. They genuinely had a high regard for Israel. Their comments evinced more hurt than hostility. But the barrier between us had been rolled into place.


One fellow said that he has lived near an Orthodox neighborhood for years, and is often outside when people – particularly the “ultra-Orthodox” walk to shul. They avert their eyes when they see him. Never a “Good morning.” One woman came over privately after the discussion. She didn’t want to offer her indictment in front of the larger group. She was a professional, involved as well with government. She goes out of her way, she said, to be positive and civil to people. From some Orthodox Jews, she claimed, the favor is not returned.


Of course I gently resisted much of this. I appealed to them to understand that residents of large cities simply don’t interact with strangers, or even their neighbors. That some groups cherished a cultural insulation that allows them to survive and thrive in their own bubble, and don’t want it penetrated by any outsiders at all. Nothing racial about it.


It wasn’t working, even though as minority members, they should have been more sympathetic, we would think, to the needs of a different minority. It didn’t work because their own sense of rejection was paramount in their minds. And they see us as white people, part of the “white privilege” problem. Their group experience left them with a kind of tunnel vision, in which everything is processed through their memory of history. (In all fairness, some of us Jews do a good deal of that as well, and should be able to understand when others do it too.) I learned later that the pastor – who really is a lovely human being, and has never brought this up in our private conversations – was very much affected at an early age when he witnessed the humiliation of his father by a white man.


We can protest all we want that this is all unfair. But those protests won’t be effective. Would we prefer to be right, or effective? The answer, as Torah Jews, is that we have to be both: right, and effective. That means increasing our sensitivity to the way others perceive us, whether we think those perceptions as justified or not. It should not be all that difficult, at least with those who are not anti-Semitic, and actually pro-Israel.


The alternative is that we will not only lose their support, but will inadvertently be put on a collision course with groups increasingly stuck on their own parochial narratives. We should be smart enough to realize what the consequences of that might be.

[This essay first appeared in the December 20 issue of The Jewish Press]

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86 Responses

  1. Bob Miller says:

    At least in NYC, eye contact on the street, on a bus, or in other public settings, is often avoided regardless of race, unless the people know each other.

    • Steve Brizel says:

      Most New Yorkers walk with a glaze on the sidewalk and as passengers on mass transit to avoid conversations with anyone other than business colleagues friends and family members Even on the subway no one talks to ach other It is a just a tense ride to work and a hopefully quick ride home

    • Gavriel M says:

      Yes, but blacks are encouraged to feel permanently aggrieved about things that everyone else takes in their stride. Obama was the president of the United States and gearing up for his life as a multimillionaire inspirational speaker and he was still bitching about an incident 20 years before when someone thought he was a store clerk and asked him to get something off the shelf.

    • emet le'amito says:

      Gavriel M, Blacks may be overly sensitive, but that does not tell us whether or not the growing orthodox community is biased or not against blacks. Evidence, however, does.

      • Raymond says:

        Even if it may be true (which in itself I doubt, but whatever) that some Jews are prejudice against Blacks, it is fairly innocuous, as it has no practical consequences, while Black hatred of Jews and other Whites does literally have murderous consequences. Or to put it another way, a Black man walking down a Jewish neighborhood, does not have to fear for his life, while a Jew or a White man walking in a Black neighborhood, is taking his life in his hands.

      • dr. bill says:

        1) the issue Rabbi Adlerstein addressed concerns not urban, northern blacks who could not care less about Israel, but religious, red-state blacks that traditionally supported Israel.
        2) sadly, what may be innocuous to you is felt by the affected minority.

  2. Ralph Kostant says:

    Ironically, I have experienced treatment similar to that mentioned by your African American tourist from other Orthodox Jews in my own neighborhood. When I extend a greeting, especially a Shabbat Shalom, they avert their eyes and do not respond. So it may not be racism, although it is easily understandable why it would be so perceived. We need to follow the example of Shammai, who was always the first to extend a greeting to a passerby in the shuk, including a gentile.

    • joel rich says:

      I think you meant R’ Yochanan Ben Zakkai (see brachot 17a)
      Joel Rich

      • mb says:

        Pirke Avot 1.15, Shammai said greet everybody cheerfully.

      • dr. bill says:

        mb, greeting people with a pleasant demeanor (Shammai in PA 1:15) is not the same as always being the initiator of a greeting even to a non-Jew (R. Yohanan ben Zakkai in Berakhot 17a).

        as you ought to recognize, JR of KT fame has a hazakah for correctness.

      • Raymond says:

        If I am not mistaken, it was Shammai who famously said to greet everyone cheerfully. The reason why that is so significant, is because of the sharp contrast between the Shammai who said this, and the same Shammai who had earlier and even more famously chased away with a stick the non-Jew who had approached Shammai to teach the non-Jew all of Judaism while standing on one foot. By announcing to the world that he (Shammai) now adopted the policy of greeting everyone with a smile, he was publicly announcing his previous mistake which he was now correcting. He was telling the world that it is indeed possible for people to get the ball rolling in bringing about their own redemption.

  3. Weaver says:

    See also this recent posting in Harry Maryles’s blog:

    Pathetic. The frum community really needs to monitor what goes on in the yeshivos that mechanech their children. The environment in some of them resemble an immature fantasy world taught by rebbeim who often aren’t much better than the 16 year-olds they purport to educate.

  4. Debby Stern says:

    Bob Miller, I thought of that except that the person who made the complaint lived right nearby. He would know if it was normal not to make eye contact. So it presumably wasn’t in New York.

  5. dr. bill says:

    Despite the righteous protestation or the tendencies to quote supporting religious sources, the change long predicted is beginning to occur. The orthodox community, as well it should, is seen as quite different from 75% liberal community that was the historic face of Judaism in the United States. The only thing surprising is the speed with which the consequences are becoming apparent. Clearly, we are observing the tip of an iceberg that many ultra-orthodox leaders, antagonistic or lukewarm to the State of Israel, will do little or nothing to address.

    And they will quote scriptural support: we are supposed to be separate from all other nations.

    • nt says:

      Even for dr. bill it is kind of amazing how quickly he turned a completely unrelated subject into an attack on the ultra-Orthodox.

      • dr. bill says:

        The Haredi community is becoming an important component, as the trump event demonstrated. that is the major change on our side. it is the first place to look to find out why attitudes towards Jews and Israel have changed. Years of practical experience have confirmed that looking at what has changed is a good place to start. It may not be perfect, but it is hardly unrelated as you are so quick to point out.

      • mycroft says:

        One uses ones political capital for whatever issues one considers important, there is no doubt that in general Chareidim do not use their political capital in matters that are important to the State of Israel.
        it has nothing to do with the question are they correct in being antagonistic or at best lukewarm to the State. Those actions have consequences for Israel, desired or not.

      • Raymond says:

        The Intolerant Leftists never misses an opportunity to demonize traditional Jews, the politically conservative side of America, or both. Basically, the more pro-Israel that any given individual is, the more the Intolerant Leftists despise them.

    • Mycroft says:

      There is a geopolitical danger to Israel.. To the extent that committed Jews are antagonistic or lukewarm to Israel they will not be a political force encouraging US support of Israel.
      Certainly , a political byproduct of many people who identify as Jews either they or close relatives and friends who identify as Jews are not accepted as Jews by various Israeli authorities will decrease those people S interest in pushing support for Israel. Not a good sign. To a great extent one needs the non Orthodox who tend to be scattered around the country more and thus can attempt political influence where needed. NY,Nzj politicians will be essentially pro Israel no matter what. There are 48 other states.

      • Steven Brizel says:

        Evangelicals LatinAmericans Asian Americans and those sectors of the African American community who are culturally conservative should be cultivated as new allies in view of the ongoing hostility of the left as it attempts to Corbinize the Democratic Party

  6. Schmerel says:

    She was a professional, involved as well with government. She goes out of her way, she said, to be positive and civil to people. From some Orthodox Jews, she claimed, the favor is not returned.

    I’ve heard plenty of frum say the exact same thing. Only they ended with “From some black people the favor is not returned”

    And that is an understatement.

  7. Raymond says:

    Slavery of Blacks was horrible, the Jim Crow laws were awful, and yes, there is definitely racism against Blacks. I have to wonder, though, why nobody ever talks about the shoe being on the other foot, that is, Black racism against White people. I have to say that in my experience, I cannot recall even a single example of any of the fellow Jews I know, harboring hatred against Blacks. I sure have, though, encountered countless examples of Black people hating White people. If it is wrong for White people to hate Black people, it should be just as wrong when it is the other way around.

    And really, what are the consequences of this hatred? Even if any of the Jews I know secretly hate Black people, they certainly do not do the Blacks any tangible harm. We Jews do not go around murdering our fellow human beings. But the opposite is not true at all. Blacks DO engage in major harm against White people. Blacks are 900% more likely to murder White people, than the other way around. And Black men in general, are 80 times more likely to commit murder, than are White people. I am not citing these figures out of thin air; I heard them from Larry Elder, a man who happens to be Black, is an attorney by profession, and is a published author as well as a very successful radio talk show host. And chances are that he gets such statistics from Thomas Sowell, who is quite a brilliant Black economist/sociologist who would be more well known had he chosen political correctness over actual facts.

    But to continue with this, wherever there is a very high murder rate in any given city, there are a disproportionate amount of Blacks, from Gary, Indiana to Baltimore to Chicago to Philadelphia and so on. The vast majority of the murders being committed, are Blacks murdering their fellow Blacks. Black leader Jesse Jackson himself, who is certainly no apologist for White people, himself famously remarked that when he is walking down a dark alleyway at night, and hears footsteps behind him, and he turns around, he is relieved when the person following him is not a Black man.

    Let us not forget how Blacks rioted against Jews over in Crown Heights, resulting in Jewish lives being lost, all because of a traffic accident in which Jews did all they could to save the life of the Black boy that had been unintentionally injured. When a controversial court decision was made here in Los Angeles involving Rodney King, Blacks responded by burning down practically the entire city. Nobody could even leave their homes for three solid days as a result, and many dozens of people were murdered. When the Reverend Martin Luther King was tragically murdered (yes, by a White racist), Blacks responded by rioting and murdering their fellow human beings. Would Dr King have approved of such a reaction, given what a man of peace and reconciliation that he was? And yet when Jonathan Pollard was so unfairly imprisoned, I am not aware of even a single Jew so much as slapping another person in the face, let alone killing anybody. Slavery of Blacks and the Jim Crow laws are long gone, yet Blacks continue to cry racism, demand slave reparations, and make endless racial slurs against White people, while doing little to help one another, while just three years after six million of our fellow Jews were turned into chimney smoke in Auschwitz, we got back control over our little Jewish State for the first time in almost 2,000 years. Perhaps Blacks would do well to try to emulate us Jews, but instead, even after all the efforts that we Jews have made on their behalf, Blacks have been shown to be far more antisemitic (38%) than are Americans in general (7%) (these figures are from a Politically Left of Center organization, the ADL).

    If it sounds like I am a bit too strident on this issue, even taking it a bit too personally, there is a good reason for that. For one thing, when I was a teacher here in the Los Angeles public schools, I could not help but notice that the more Blacks that were in any given classroom, the worse that class of students behaved, in both their words and their actions….and that was before I would say even one word to them. Even worse was what my father was forced to experience. During his 25 years of having a liquor store in an overwhelmingly Hispanic neighborhood, he was held up 50 times, 47 (94%) of which were by Blacks, who shot him in his head, shot him in his lungs, and beat him up. And this was a man who was only there to support our family, and who constantly went out of his way to extend credit and find other ways to be extra humane to his Black customers.

    And so when people tell me that as a White person or as a Jew that I should feel guilty for somehow harboring prejudices or mistreating Blacks, I just think to myself that none of those saying such things, have ever been in my shoes. If Black people are truly interested in finding out the real cause of almost all of their problems, perhaps they should stop putting the blame on us and start taking careful looks in their own mirrors.

    • Aharon says:

      Rav Adelstein was talking about how we need to eliminate the racist stigma in our community. You’re reply seemed to prove his point. It all seems to be based on a few anecdotes you provide. If someone had been ripped off my a Jew, does that mean they should harbor an anti-semetic attitude? Are you looking to improve our relations, or just continue to make a chillul hashem?

      • Raymond says:

        Had you truly understood what I read, you would see that what I said is not based on a few anecdotes, but really covers the state of things in all of American society, especially in its biggest cities where there is a sizable Black population. And if telling the real truth about things constitutes desecration of G-d’s Name, that tells me that G-d does not care about the truth, which would hardly be a G-d worthy of our worship. We can hardly solve such key problems as violent crime, if we do not first acknowledge the true nature of its existence.

      • Gavriel M says:

        This comment really exemplifies the surreal inversion of morality characteristic of American liberalism (it is typically referred to by conservatives as a ‘double standard’, but that barely scratches the surface of what’s going on). Raymond’s father was robbed by blacks 47 times, he was beaten up and shot in the head. Raymond himself had to endure the horrors typically experienced by any teacher who is misled into venturing into a black majority school. But even the slightest expression of ill will on his part is a ‘racist stigma’ and a ‘chillul hashem’.

        By contrast, some blacks feel Jews are insufficiently welcoming and friendly towards them and this is a national emergency.

  8. David Z says:

    I see in the comments that people aren’t getting the point. You want to believe that many Black are ruder than Orthodox Jews? Great. But that doesn’t solve the problem. Which is we’re a minority that needs support for Israel and can ill-afford any more enemies. So it won’t always work, but your job is to do your best to make a kidush hashem. R’ Adlerstein is suggesting we double our efforts with Black folk who view us as White whether we like it or not. Or you cna be part of the problem. My wife has personally twice in the past couple weeks gone out of her way to explain to Black women why she did something they interpreted as victimizing them so that they would feel normal. And they both thanked her. Their feeling of victimization is real, even if unreasonable and we can go out of our way to help. The worst that will happen is our egos will be damaged.
    And as R’ Adlerstein noted, we have the same thing, you antisemites!

    • Bob Miller says:

      It also wouldn’t hurt if we were more polite to each other.

      One obstacle for black people is that many are trained by schools, leaders, and media to feel victimized, so, in an ambiguous situation, that’s their default.

    • rkz says:

      As an Israeli. I must say that there are many Israelis (I am one of them) who don’t want any support from goyim, and it does not matter if they are Black, White, or any other colors. (Esp. if they believe in a religion of idolatry, e.g. Xianty)
      As Maran HaGaon HaRav Ka’akov Moshe Charlap zt”l explained- any support we get from the goyim hinders Kedushat Yisrael, and only when all the goyim will turn against us the Geula HaShlema will come.

      • dr. bill says:

        rkz, Xianity (with the possible exception of Roman Catholicism) is definitely not idolatry. I assume that the folks Rabbi Adlerstein interacts with are primarily protestants.

        More troubling, I for one do not have an inkling why you take as normative a view that if it were God forbid accepted by many would require that we depend on miracles.

        Our history is not lacking for many greater than either of us who had predictions on the timing of the end of days. It would appear to me there are more focused reasons that govern our observance of mitzvot and overall ethical behavior.

      • rkz says:

        Dr. Bill:
        A. All major poskim (that I know of pasken) that all forms of Xianity are idolatry. (With the exception of GRYIHH ztl, but WADR, I do not understand his teshuva.) After all, Prot. also worship J.
        B. I did not write any prediction on the end of days. I wrote what should be our guide at any time.

      • mycroft says:

        rkz, Xianity (with the possible exception of Roman Catholicism) is definitely not idolatry.

        Idolatry in English has a different connotation than AZ. “Idolatry is the worship of an idol or cult image, being a physical image, such as a statue, or a person in place of God.” RC does not believe that the images in their place of worship are representations of God. Certainly, there are those who have the position that RC is AZ-of course others don’t. A story from about 60 years ago when RYBS in a hospital convinced a RC person to return his faith is a story counter to it being AZ. AZ is assured for goyim and thus the Rav as an Ish Halacha could not have encouraged such behavior if he believed it wax AZ.

      • rkz says:

        Dr. Bill- Thank you for the correction. I meant AZ (The last time I wrote anything halakhic in English was over a decade ago, when I had to tanslate the abstract of my phd…)
        The story about GRYBS is very interesting, but ein l’medin halakha mi’maase.

  9. Michael Lipkin says:

    Another important contribution to this serious issue. I still often share your previous excellent article on the subject, “On Racism, Its Cost and Causes”.

  10. Reb Yid says:

    To Gavriel:

    Barack Obama was also a US Senator and all dressed up but could not find a taxi willing to take him.

    When you and I walk out the door each morning, we don’t have to think about our whiteness. That is a luxury unavailable to individuals of color.

    • Sarah says:

      Not that this is relevant to the topic at hand, but while we may not have to think of our whiteness, many of us do have to think about our Jewishness….

    • StevevBrizel says:

      Obama wa a radical who always played the race card when nothing else worked as a means to galvanize his base..sorry America was born in 1776 not 1619 and slavery existed throughout ancient and medieval times and was far worse in South America than in the US which after a bloody civil war and a failed Reconstruction then took a relatively short period of 100 tears to turn to village rights into such a reality that e en ObSma who saw nothing exceptional in America would be elected president. Sorry I don’t buy the jargon that we are all inherently racist or that white America is do. We are not responsible for inner city crime which is minority against minority or the lack of a family life which works against the goals of education and opens the door to anti social and criminal behavior

      • Lawrence M. Reisman says:

        Actually, in Brazil, the major slavery center in South America, the status of slaves was far better than in the US.

  11. DF says:

    This provocative essay can be addressed from many perspectives. As the comments show, RYA’s perspective is by no means the only one, and may in fact be only a minority view. Many others feel that black grievances are unjustified and unfounded, or simply a way to deflect what are at core homemade problems. It seems pretty clear for the most part how one views such claims are colored generationally. Those who grew up in the 60s are more accepting of black grievances at face value. (Where is commenter Loberstein when we need him?) Those who grew up in the 80s and beyond aren’t so, shall we say, “tolerant” of claims of “racism” or alleged mistreatment.

    In any event, I just saw on Arutz Sheva that prominent black celebrity Kanye West is producing an opera glorifying Nebuchadnezzar. Yeah, that Nebuchadnezzar – the guy who destroyed the Temple, invaded our country, and killed our ancestors. Yet I haven’t seen any of the usual faux outrage from the usual suspects. Hypocrisy is vile, and society has less and less taste for it as we see it more and more.

    • I don’t think it is a matter of perspective at all. That was my major point. If one disagreed about the right to feel victimized, it would not change any of what I wrote. Contrary to the real racists among us, there are large numbers of fine, conservative black people who are sympathetic to the causes of Jews and Israel, and who must be courted along with anyone else who will be our allies. There is no faking it in building those relationships. It can only be done with empathy. Those who are not capable of it – for whatever the reason – can sit it out, but at least they should not make matters worse.

      As far as Kanye West’s opera, from what I have briefly read, the plot is about Nevuchadnetzar’s troubles caused by his refusing to humble himself before G-d, and his only hope being to do so. Hardly a terrible idea

      • DF says:

        You speak of the real racists among us. Who are they – people who have not drunk the false Kool Aid preaching that all races are the same? Chazal certainly didn’t believe that. Neither did all of mankind, for all of history, until the Civil Rights Act. And even today we don’t know who actually believes it or who simply cant speak out because it is effectively illegal to do so.

        Look at the Racist’s evil twin brother – the Sexist. Every orthodox Jew meets this definition today, simply by praying with separate seating. Should we feel guilty about this because our timeless ideology isn’t in step with today’s passing trends? Should we pander to feminist groups by disavowing our tradition? You mention empathy – what exactly does that mean? That I have to agree with every ludicrous statement I hear on the (highly questionable) basis that black conservative support is contingent upon supporting the NAACP?

        Common decency is a given. It costs nothing to use terms like “African American” if that is the currently preferred term. And it goes without saying that everyone is to be judged on the content of his character and not on the color of his skin. But I see no compelling reason to go beyond this, nor should we be goaded into lobbing the meaningless “racist” grenade at our own people.

      • Fair question. And it deserves a straight answer.

        The racist is the one who ignores the first three lines of your last paragraph. The one who doesn’t seem to know about “common decency.” The people who look to the behavior of some/many/it doesn’t matter, and use what they find to define everyone of a similar hue or ethnicity. The people who don’t make distinctions between individuals, because they see the stereotype first. They are all racists.

        The people who then say that when they get to know specific individuals and see that they don’t fit the stereotype, they magnanimously concede that they are decent people. And that proves that they are not racist. Sorry. It doesn’t.

        The people who refer to the person who sweeps up after everyone leaves as “the shvartze,” as if he didn’t deserve the dignity of being called by his name. They are racists.

        The rebbi in the cheder who tells his young charges that they are so fortunate to be Yidden, because otherwise they would be a drunken goy. He is a racist, and producing another generation of racists.

        The people who engage in wholesale government fraud, and excuse it by saying that if the shvartzes can do it, why can’t we? The are doubly-contemptible racists.

        Don’t play games by pretending they don’t exist. They are there in ample supply. Baruch Hashem, in major parts of the community, they are in shorter supply with the passing of time, especially among younger people. But they are very much out there, and often linked to frumkeit.

        Anyone claiming that they don’t exist is either a liar, or living under a rock.

        (About the first two paragraphs, there is room for discussion and agreement in part. But they were not the topic of the op-ed.)

      • DF says:

        Agreed with everything you said, only I see those problems more of general classlessness or *mentchelechkeit* than of racism. Perhaps the word has been so cheapened by overuse (like claiming that support or opposition to certain presidents is racism) that it has lost any meaning at all.

      • I can buy that – although it is depressing to ponder how what should be the regal bearing of Torah Jews has, in some, given way to coarseness. But my point remains: Jews in golus today require, bederech hatevah, alliances with others. If some of those good candidates perceive us as racist, all the discussion here amounts to word games. We need to remedy the situation.

      • rkz says:

        Rabbi Adlerstein- why stay in galut (it would be much much better if American Jewry would follow your lead and make Aliya)

      • 1) Don’t give me too much credit. I did not do what more courageous people did. Instead, I waited till all my kids were on a path in life, and also married. I could not have come earlier, because they (and I!) would have detested the choices in chinuch that were available. Not to mention parnassah. (Baruch Hashem, in recent years there has been some movement on the chinuch issue in a few places in the country. We’re still not there. 2) More importantly, if we want to be responsible to Klal Yisrael, we have to be realists. It is just not going to happen that millions of Jews are going to pick up and do the right thing by coming home. That won’t happen until either Mashiach leads them here, or, as the gemara says, Hashem will emplace an evil ruler like Haman to “encourage” them. It doesn’t matter that all those stragglers in galus may be objectively wrong. We are still responsible for their well-being. As long as there are still strong Jewish communities in the US, we ought to be concerned for them. That includes encouraging them to play their political cards wisely

      • rkz says:

        Rabbi Adlerstein- Thank you for the extremely honest (but very depressing) answer.

  12. Shades of Gray says:

    “That means increasing our sensitivity to the way others perceive us, whether we think those perceptions as justified or not.”

    A number of years ago, we had a Chasidic neighbor who never said hello to any of our family. When one of my siblings commented that it bothered him, another family member suggested that our neighbor was very shy, which turned out to be true. In such cases, the Chasidishe garb could in fact add to the person’s shyness, as it highlights his perceived strangeness.

    Even with non-shy people, there might exist fear of antisemitism passed down through generations. Since there may be fundamentally an underlying fear rather than racism and disdain, there can be room for some empathy even towards socially aloof people(in addition to noting the fact that in every ethnic group there is a wide variety of people and personalities).

    Perhaps emphasizing the humanity of the Other would diminish some fear in such social interactions. The question, then, for education is how to balance messages of “havdalah” and quotations of ” Esav soneh l’Yaakov” when antisemitism rears its head, with explicit messages of valuing the humanity and Tzelem Elokim in others(“making a Kiddish Hashem”, does implicitly value the humanity of non-Jews, as R. Avrohom Neuberger wrote in a Mishpacha article about R. Muroff’s returning $98,000 found in a desk– if a non-Jew’s perspective would not be significant, there would be no mandate of ohr l’goyim or kiddush Hashem).

    • rkz says:

      Ohr laGoyim and Kiddush HaShem have definintions. None of them includes an eradure of complete Havdala bein Yisrael LaAmim

      • dr. bill says:

        rkz, remind me never to be yotzeh with your havdalah 🙂

      • Shades of Gray says:

        Below is Rabbi Avrohom Neuberger ‘s sidebar, “Reject with respect”, in Mishpacha(12/25/13). The main article was about R. Noach Muroff, who returned $98,000 he found in a desk, and upon the advice of Rav Shmuel Kamenetsky, spread the story to media outlets to counter negative media coverage of Orthodox Jews. The sidebar, for me, contains the novel insight that the concepts of kiddush Hashem and ohr la’goyim implicitly contain respect for non-Jews, which in turn, needs to be emphasized in education:

        “The mitzvah to be mekadeish Sheim Shamayim and the navi’s mandate to be “a light unto the nations” presupposes a respect for non-Jews; otherwise, why would their perspective be significant?

        In fact, I would guess that there is a correlation between the frequencies of chillul Hashem and kiddush Hashem and the general attitude that one adopts toward non-Jews: The more one and his companions respect non-Jews, the greater number of kiddush Hashem incidents; the less he and his companions do, the greater number of chillul Hashem incidents.

        Therefore, while we emphatically reject non-Jewish values [“values” is italicized in original], and we convey this to our children, we must also convey that all people deserve respect. Too often, however, the two are confused, and our children are thus exposed to an attitude that is baseless, spawns bad middos, and undermines the mitzvah of kiddush Hashem.

        For every time we tell our children that we reject secular lifestyle, we must reinforce the mitzvah to make a kiddush Hashem, a mitzvah that must be based on the Eibeshter’s concern for the non-Jews, that they, too, become aware of kevod Malchuso. lf the Eibeshter is concerned, shouldn’t we be too?”

      • rkz says:

        Shades of Gray:
        The Halakha recommends returning an Aveda to a goy, if it does done to be Mekadesh Shem Shamayim. It does not follow that we can invent new methods of “Kiddush Hashem”.

      • Shades of Gray says:

        “It does not follow that we can invent new methods of “Kiddush Hashem”

        I don’t see where either I, or Rabbi Neuberger, said anything of that sort, but it actually may not be a bad idea, depending on what the “new method” is.

      • rkz says:

        I was referring to this: “novel insight that the concepts of kiddush Hashem and ohr la’goyim implicitly contain respect for non-Jews”

      • Shades of Gray says:

        rkz: Your disagreement is with R. Avrohom Neuberger, not with me(he is a rav  in New Hempstead, author of Gemara and Mussar seforim for Artscroll and the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation, and a weekly columnist for the Yated Chinuch Forum). I personally found his approach regarding non-Jews and kiddush Hashem “novel and insightful” as I wrote.

      • rkz says:

        Shades of Gray: Indeed. I do not think that disagreements are assur. I did not mean to belittle anyone personally, ch”v.

  13. Reb Yid says:

    African Americans have every right to feel aggrieved.

    There have been far too many times where young black males in American have been the clear victims of police violence, and far too many deaths as a result. Moreover, the police are almost never found guilty, no matter how heinous the transgression. Most times, at worst, they are reassigned…only to reappear in some other community.

    This is a systematic problem in America.

    Those on this board would be howling mad, and justifiably so, if Orthodox Jews were similarly brutalized.

    • Bob Miller says:

      Can we agree that, for whatever reasons, black culture in some places is dysfunctional and promotes crime and ignorance? Black churches fight this all the time.

      • Reb Yid says:


        Have you ever visited the National Museum of African American History and Culture?

        Would you also agree, then, that “white culture” in some places is dysfunctional and promotes ignorance, intolerance, xenophobia, violence and domestic terrorism?

      • Bob Miller says:

        See the astute Dr. Thomas Sowell’s book “Black Rednecks and White Liberals.”

    • Steve Brizel says:

      The overwhelming amount of violent crime including fatalities in the inner cities is committed by minority group members against other minority group members. The police merely prevent such crimes from occurring. The notion that the police are engaged in some sort of mass persecution in the inner cities is a left wing sound bite with little if any evidence in fact to support the same. The police are not responsible for a dysfunctional family structure that in all too many cases with the absence of a stable family leads to anti social behavior and criminal behavior. Like it or not neighborhoods and cities that tolerate evasion of subway fares and using the sidewalk for a bathroom breed criminal behavior and actions

    • Steve Brizel says:

      Who is perpetrating the most acts of violent anti Semitism against the Charedi communities in the US? Don’t hold your breath waiting for the ADL, which was never known for aiding the Charedi world on any issue now headed by an Obama apparatchik to do anything

  14. Raymond says:

    I realize I have already said a lot in this conversation, but in light of some of the comments I have read in direct or indirect response to what I said, I would now like to do a bit of damage control. Because I know what thoughts are in my own mind, I do not consider what I am about to say to constitute any change in my position, as much as it is a clarification.

    First of all, while I do not take back even one word that I have said on this issue, nobody should interpret what I said to mean that I am saying that all Black people are the way that I described, because if that was really what I was saying, then it does approach purely racial theories that make the claim that Blacks are inherently inferior to White people. To take such a position would not only be disgusting on a visceral level, but it would also be absurd from a purely empirical perspective. My comments against Blacks was based on their behavior, not on how they were born. That must be my point, because to posit inherent racial inferiority for Blacks has to be immediately dismissed as pure nonsense, the moment one encounters even a single Black person worthy of our admiration. And every one of us here, even those who do their best to ignore the political or non-Jewish world, knows of many good, decent Black people. The only reason why I dont name some of them here, is that I don’t want to take up too much space here. My only point that I had originally tried to make is that given the high rate of violent behavior among Blacks, that it is not unreasonable to be more weary of a Black stranger than of a White stranger. But we must also never forget that each person is an individual as well as a member of a group, and so we need to judge each person on a case-by-case basis.

    Let me try to drive my point home just a little bit further. It can actually be argued that how I feel about Blacks, constitutes a view that is actually less racist than the position held by apologists for Blacks. President George W Bush spoke about the “soft racism of lowered expectations,” and I think that phrase fits perfectly here. Those who bend over backward for Blacks, are really telling Blacks that they need to depend on us because they are inherently inferior to us. In sharp contrast, I am critical of Blacks because I expect better from them. In fact, i expect them to be as law abiding and successful as White people, or even Jews for that matter. This is a bit of a side point, but often I think that if only antisemites would imitate us Jews rather than wasting their time hating us, that maybe they (the antisemites) might eventually be as successful as we Jews are. I apply the same idea to Black people: if they would spend their energies on living worthy, successful lives rather than hating White people, or hating the police and so on, then there is no reason to think that they could not be every bit of a success as are White people.

    One more thing before I go. I will admit that what I am about to say will show my bias in favor of our Jewish people, and if so, I plead guilty. Anything negative that I observe to be existing among too many Blacks, I never really apply to Black Jews, that is, to Ethiopian Jews. To me, a Jew is a Jew is a Jew, no matter what they look like. And why do I feel this way? Well because we Jews are members of the most remarkable people who has ever existed, so surely the effects of one’s Jewishness far transcends the conditions into which one has been born.

  15. Steve Brizel says:

    Reb Yid wrote in part:

    “Would you also agree, then, that “white culture” in some places is dysfunctional and promotes ignorance, intolerance, xenophobia, violence and domestic terrorism”

    Who was responsible for 9–11? Where is violent crime most prevalent? One can find much evidence in the liberal media and academia that the far left is replete with “ignorance, intolerance, xenophobia, violence and domestic terrorism”

    • Raymond says:

      Steve Brizel, I just wanted you to know that I feel so comforted by the thoughts you have expressed on this thread. I realize that my views on this are extremely politically incorrect, so it is a relief to me to know that I am not the only one who feels the way I do on this matter. On the other hand, if you would rather not be put in the same ideological camp as me on this issue, then I will understand that, too, given the current political climate.

      And all I will just add here to the discussion here is that in reading Reb Yid’s description of White people, I can just as easily and accurately ascribe those very same traits to Black people. Why he or any other Leftist Jew feels the need to be so full of self-hatred, is beyond my understanding. Maybe such people feel that if only we would bend over backward to whichever is the latest group hating we Jews, that the non-Jewish world would stop hating us. Last time I checked, that technique has never really worked in all of Jewish history.

      • Steve Brizel says:

        The facts on the ground are disputed only by those who live on a different ideological planet

  16. Raymond says:

    After reading all of the comments on here, it has occurred to me that all of what I have expressed on here can be summarized in a single, well-known sentence, namely that a political conservative is a liberal who has been mugged.

  17. Reb Yid says:

    Ah yes, Thomas Sowell. Memories of grad school where a professor out of her depth assigned ETHNIC AMERICA as the only reading on the topic.

    We poked so many holes in that book that neither Sowell nor the professor had an answer for. The professor was forced to assign additional readings as a result to make up for these deficiencies.

    • Bob Miller says:

      Sowell’s body of work holds up very well against others. I imagine that some deficiencies are in the mind of the beholder (especially in politically charged subject matter) and that you, too, are not perfect.

    • Raymond says:

      If Thomas Sowell were given the chance to refute any and all of Reb Yid’s alleged poked holes, I have no doubt whatsoever that Thomas Sowell would clean his clock. This comment will probably not be posted, which is unfortunate, because somebody needs to wake Reb Yid up to reality.

    • Steve Brizel says:

      Try reading Heather MaCDonsld on the false claims of diversity advocates and Wilfred MacClay on American history snd especially the historiography of slavery for a more well rounded addition to your obviously progressive point of view

  18. Nachum says:

    The use of Spy vs. Spy is telling. An English language parsha pamphlet in Israel- I don’t have to name it, there’s only one- puts up a picture of them every Parshat Shelach to symbolize the conflict between Yehoshua and Calev, on the one side, and the other ten meraglim on the other. So far so good. But every year- repeated despite my once sending them a gentle note that perhaps they should not write this- they write “The good spies (symbolized by the White Spy) against the bad spies (the Black Spy).” (Of course, the whole point of the original comic is that *neither* spy is “good” or “bad.”) And this is hardly the only place that a casual racist and/or anti-gentile view is expressed. This is especially hurtful when one witnesses, as I do, gentile caretakers for the elderly flipping through the pamphlet (the only one they can understand) during davening.

    I hold very, very, politically incorrect views when it comes to race. Some may even call me “racist,” and indeed have. (I long ago learned to ignore that nonsense.) But I do believe in treating all people, and peoples, with common decency and respect.

    • Raymond says:

      Are you saying that the Spy vs Spy cartoon is itself racist? Because if so, then wow, nothing is sacred to the Intolerant Left, not even cherished, harmless cultural icons.

    • DF says:

      If you believe this, then you need to do some reflecting by yourself on a lonely mountaintop somewhere to realize how, against your will and mind, you have been affected by contemporary media. Spy v Spy, White Hats v Black Hats, a “black mark”, “pure white”, “a black day” – these are literary conventions and have been part of the English language for centuries. They are no more racist than use of the generic masculine in Shakespeare is sexist. To accept such nonsense leads directly to where we are today, where you can choose your own personal pronoun and self identify your gender from a drop-down list of twelve.

      On such issues, Open Mind means Lack of Spine.

      • Nachum says:

        No, you’ve missed my point. The original comic does not portray *either* spy as good or bad. That the parsha sheet made them so is superfluous and should be avoided. Of course we use white and black in those ways. (Although in Judaism it’s white and red.) But there’s no need to take it further than that.

  19. Bob Miller says:

    Two of the available Dr. Thomas Sowell interview videos touching on black culture:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kB_m5-xBy0Q (longer, covers other topics, too)

    • Raymond says:

      I very strongly suspect that Thomas Sowell would agree with everything I have said on this thread. In fact, if anything, he would say that I greatly understated the case
      I have been trying to make on here. Ironically, the Intolerant Left does not like him and other Black conservatives at all, which only goes to show that they (the Leftists) only like Black people when they vote like them, which in turn is an indication that they don’t really care about Blacks. All they truly care about is getting and maintaining political power. Another Black conservative, Candace Owens, speaks quite eloquently about this.

      • Reb Yid says:

        Institutional racism has existed for many, many generations in this country. Slavery, Jim Crow, redlining and the criminal justice system are only a few of the many obvious examples.

        Really, all that the original post was about was acknowledging racism. It doesn’t require lashing out at others to do this.

    • Bob Miller says:

      FYI, in the first video, he meant the Tuskegee Airmen.

  20. Steve Brizel says:

    Reb Yid slavery is not responsible for redlining or perceived injustices in criminal justice.Jim Crow laws haven’t existed in the US for decades and AFAIK Obsma was elected president for two terms Again the refusal to address the dysfunctional family as a source of criminal behavior in the inner city remains a subject that progressives refuse to address

  21. Steve Brizel says:

    One of the primary bases for the 1619 Project is a historian whose works have been criticized as follows in the above linked article:
    “For example, Cornell historian Edward Baptist’s 2014 book The Half Has Never Been Told argues that the wealth piled up by the minutely managed institutions of slavery was the source of all subsequent American wealth. Baptist asserts that almost half of the economic activity of the United States by the year 1836 was a product of slavery. That stunning statistic was cited recently by the journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates in his testimony before Congress, in favor of reparations for slavery.

    The only problem is that Baptist’s statistic is demonstrably wrong. As Magness and others have shown, it is based on elementary accounting errors, incorrectly double- and triple-counting intermediate transaction costs in a way that greatly inflates the final figure. The correct number should have been closer to 5 percent than 50. Now, 5 percent is not an insignificant amount by any means, but it’s vastly different from half of the national economy.

    This was not a one-off error. The reviews of Baptist’s book by distinguished scholars such as Trevor Burnard, Stanley Engerman, and Robert Paquette are among the most devastating that I have ever seen in a specialized professional setting for a book of its prominence. Burnard’s many criticisms can be summed up in his statement that the book’s “deficiencies are so serious as to cast considerable doubt about the capacity of the author to present evidence properly.”

  22. Steve Brizel says:

    For further critiques by eminent historians of “1619, see the interviews with other historians herehttps://www.dailywire.com/news/historians-shred-nyt-1619-project-claiming-slavery-defines-america

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