Posts tagged " jews "

On Rabbis and Immigration (Guest Musing)

February 16th, 2017 Posted by Susan's Musings 33 comments

I am delighted to share my Musing platform with Rabbi Yaakov Rosenblatt. You will soon hear more about Rabbi Rosenblatt who we are delighted to welcome as director of the American Alliance of Jews and Christians (AAJC). He shares our passion for and commitment to an America firmly based on Judeo-Christian values. Like us, he is deeply troubled when Judaism is misrepresented as modern liberalism. He was moved to compose the following piece.

On Monday, February 6, some 200 rabbis and rabbinical students protested outside Trump International Hotel in Manhattan.   19 of them blocked traffic and were arrested for disorderly conduct.  The group was protesting President Trump’s executive order placing a 90-day hold on immigration from seven countries which lack adequate security programs to vet the peaceful nature of visa holders: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen.

Rabbi Jill Jacobs, executive director of Teru’ah, the left-wing rabbinical group that organized the protest, said it was meant to show that many Jews oppose the ban.

“We remember our history, and we remember that the border of this country closed to us in 1924, with very catastrophic consequences during the Holocaust.  We know that some of the language that’s being used now to stop the Muslims from coming is the same language that was used to stop Jewish refugees from coming“, she said. 

As the great-grandson of a rabbi who immigrated to the United States in 1924 because of religious persecution, these words caught my attention.

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Do as I Do, Not as I Say

December 20th, 2016 Posted by Thought Tools 26 comments

Years ago, the little yeshiva in Skokie, Illinois, had a pathetic basketball team.  Just a bunch of slightly nerdy kids stumbling around the court.  Their star forward  dribbled like a drunk trying to stomp a cockroach.  They were so low in the Jewish schools’ league that they usually fell off the bottom of the page.

One day—wonders of wonders—the Chicago Bulls offered to coach them to basketball excellence.  This was going to be The Dirty Dozen all over again.  There is something deeply moving about watching hopeless losers rising to stardom.  King David’s words would resonate throughout Jewish Chicago, “The stone the builders despised has become the cornerstone.” (Psalms 118:22)

What a generous act of magnanimity.  Living legends of basketball like Michael Jordan and Dennis Rodman unstintingly giving of themselves.  Through their concern, a motley collection of kids who had never known what it was to hear fans roaring approval, would ultimately achieve success in sports.

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Can a non-Jew become “Chosen”?

June 30th, 2016 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 1 comment

Question:

I listen to your podcast very often and I must say, that those helped me in becoming better human being. Hence my relationship with God improved as well (at least I think). But as I read through the Bible and other books, I always find some mention that only Israelites are the God’s nation. Why is that so important and mentioned quite often? Does this mean, that a person born outside Israel or in non-jewish family can believe in God, yet can never become one of his “chosen”?    
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Why are Jews so liberal?

January 14th, 2016 Posted by Ask the Rabbi No Comment yet

Question:

Rabbi, my wife and I have been enjoying your Blaze podcasts, and have bought some of your products. Thank you and Susan both for the high quality of the content.
My question is about Jews and liberalism. You are obviously an independent thinker, and appear to hold conservative values. How is it that most Jews seem to be staunch liberals? How can they support liberal agendas if they have been exposed to Ancient Jewish Wisdom?

∼ Robert P.

Answer:

Dear Robert,

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Are there Jews everywhere?

November 12th, 2015 Posted by Ask the Rabbi No Comment yet

Question:

I understand that God warned in Deuteronomy 28 that He would disperse the Jews throughout the world “from one end of the earth to the other”. Did this happen?
Are Jews in every country; for example Chile? Iceland? Korea? South Africa? How far were they dispersed?

∼ Kate S.

Answer:

Dear Kate,

Chile – yes; Iceland -yes; Korea – yes; South Africa -yes. It is quite difficult to find a populated area that does not have resident Jews or where Jews haven’t historically been a presence. There are countries where Jews lived before being expelled (returning to some later, like England and Spain) and others, such as Syria, that Jews fled relatively recently because of persecution after thousands of years of maintaining an intact religious community.

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Religious Discrimination?

September 13th, 2011 Posted by Susan's Musings 7 comments

A few people who read that my son and his classmates were going to be penalized in their medical school grades for missing so many days while fully observing the fall Jewish holidays, wrote me that they saw this as religious discrimination.  I disagree.

As a mother, I was certainly unhappy to hear that my son’s hard work was going to be automatically downgraded, but I am intensely wary of throwing around the “D” word. Our society’s movement from being one of obligations and gratitude towards a culture built on rights and entitlements has gone hand in hand with an increase in litigious behavior. The word “discrimination” has become a loaded gun, and one which in my mind often blows up in the face of those who wield it.  Certainly, a society needs a legal system to thrive, but I believe that as more laws trying to combat discrimination get put on the books, one consequence is the shattering of human relationships replaced by an increase in suspicion and hostility.

We can (and have) outlawed employer’s asking all sorts of questions or refusing to hire someone based on all sorts of criteria, but do we honestly think that those laws don’t come with a price? I know too many truly unprejudiced people who hired an employee and then were blindsided when the new hire proved incompetent or worse. They found that because the employee fit into a “protected” group firing that person was an expensive, legal nightmare.  Among other things, can we truly proclaim that our minority youth unemployment rate is divorced from the speed with which the legal and media communities exploit the words “bigotry” and “discrimination”?

There was a time through much of the twentieth century when Jews were frequently excluded from jobs and schools solely because of being Jewish, as determined by their having Jewish names or appearances. This discrimination (in this case a proper use of the word) ended as people got to know their Jewish neighbors. If your child was sick were you not going to use the Jewish doctor with the excellent reputation and wonderful bedside manner? And having come to love him would you agitate for his son to be excluded from your alma mater? Would you rather see your business do less well than your competitor’s by refusing to hire the Jewish CPA? Would you rather remain unemployed than take a job in a Jewish-owned company? Were you really going to insist on not hiring your neighbor and friend?  Like many other immigrant and minority groups, through hard work and good citizenship, that prejudice diminished as Jews gained a reputation and established relationships.

What does this have to do with my son today? A small minority of America’s Jewish population today adheres to Jewish law regarding things like Sabbath and holiday observances and kosher food. For those of us who believe that God spoke to Moses on Sinai, giving him rules by which the Jewish people should live and that those rules were faithfully handed down through the generations, it is a privilege to be part of that chain of transmission.

As part of that choice we know that certain activities, ranging from community baseball leagues with practices on Saturday to local youth drama groups with performances on Friday night are ones in which we, and our children, cannot participate. We cannot ignore the Sabbath and holidays any more than we can run into the neighborhood (unkosher) fast food restaurant.  But in a free society, such as America, that is a voluntary choice we make and as with all choices, we need to accept the consequences.

Whether attending college or professional school or working, we know that needing to be home by 4 p.m. on winter Friday afternoons for the Sabbath (whose beginning is connected to sunset) or not being able to work on Saturday no matter how urgent the business emergency, will most likely be alien to the culture of most schools and offices. We recognize that it is not necessarily discriminatory if those in positions of responsibility don’t automatically concede, “No problem. Of course I’ll change my expectations to make things work for you.”  There are four ways for Jews to deal with this. The first is to establish one’s own businesses and schools, which partially explains Jewish entrepreneurship in the last century but does have its limitations. The second way is to enclose ourselves in a secluded enclave, studying and working only within the confines of the Orthodox Jewish community. The third is to bring lawsuits or otherwise try to bludgeon others to accommodate us. (That method means that we must demand the same accommodations for members of all other religious groups as well, whose unintended consequences in my mind will lead to a lessening of America’s Christian nature and her subsequently being a less hospitable place for Jews.) The last method is to earn respect and forge relationships, refusing to see ourselves as victims.

The Jewish students in my son’s class who don’t observe the holy days and will be attending class rather than synagogue used words like, “discrimination” and “offended.” However, the six religious students whose grades were to be impacted were disappointed but accepting. They appreciate the overtures the school has made to them, for example going out of their way to provide kosher food at functions, and see the reality of lower grades simply as a willing price they pay for their loyalty to God’s commandments. They each could have chosen to go to medical school in Israel and instead chose to attend this particular school in America.

They responded to the news that class attendance was mandatory and a major part of the grading by accepting that they would have to work twice as hard to do as well as their classmates. They also decided to send a polite letter to the administration clarifying what their religious obligations were. They understood that since the members of the administration probably all had Jewish friends who were adamant about their Jewish identity at the same time as they ate pork, worked on the Sabbath and treated the Jewish holidays as little more than nice times for family get-togethers with perhaps an optional appearance at synagogue, those in charge might understandably be confused by the religious students’ position.

As it turned out, as they were composing this letter, they received an email informing them that the administration was considering changing their position. What happened? I don’t know for sure, but my guess is that someone in the administration spoke about the issue with a Jewish friend or colleague who explained the students’ stance. Since the attendance policy was not implemented as a tool of prejudice and no defensive front was erected as happens when one is accused of being a bigot, the issue is being resolved without threats and with harmony, each side respectful of and appreciating the other.  Which leaves this Jewish mother proud of her son and grateful for living in this wonderful country.

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