Now that the US Government shutdown is over, I am also putting an abrupt end to my blogg shutdown. You see, dear Henry, as an act of heroic and darn-right patriotic solidarity to the Grand Canyon, which was closed as a result of the shutdown, I decided I would be a hypocrite if I did not also shut down my blogg. So I shut it down. But now, the government is not shut down anymore. So, my blogg is not shut down either. You see, America is by far, one of the greatest nations on G-d's green earth. I love this nation. My country tis of thee; sweet land of liberty. O beautiful for patriot dream, That sees beyond the years Thine alabaster cities gleam Undimmed by human tears!
In short, America is awesomely awesome. What is so amazing about America? Is it that it is the Great Melting Pot where everyone becomes the same and melts together as one? Or I would suggest that perhaps this is not such a great thing, for everyone to lose their own personal identities and characteristics. Maybe the awesome thing about 'murica is that I can be a religious Jew living and practicing freely, while you can be a devout Protestant, living how you want, and he can be an observant Muslim living according to his traditions, and she can be a Buddhist, doing her thing. We can all live in the same salad bowl, each of uniquely retaining our own identities.
My question, that came up this past week, is why is it that so many of my Jewish brethren so desperately want to be melted into a massive pot, losing their Jewish identities? This past week I probably asked several hundred college students in a campus on the East Coast of this beautiful country of ours two questions: A) Are you Jewish? B) If so, are you interested in a FREE trip to Israel. Henry, I am now about to analyze these two basic seemingly simplistic simple questions, and then I am going to call it a day.
Firstly, we will deal with question number 1: Are you Jewish. For some reason, the word "Jewish" itself inherently displays ambivalence and lack of conviction. Have you ever had a Christian say I am Christian-ish. Or a Muslim say I am Muslim-ish. Or, do they tell us, proud as can be, "I am a Christian! I am a Muslim!" This ambivalence and shyness about being Jewish was on clear display this week, as we would ask people. There would be a group of 3-4 Jews, and after hearing the question, the Jew would look away, while the non-Jewish friend would nudge them, and say, "she's Jewish," at which point the Jew would dejectedly look down, accepting defeat.
Now, we will analyze question 2: Do you want a free trip to Israel? That is a seemingly straight forward question that does not even need our analysis. I walked over to a table of three students who were studying. I said, "Sorry to interrupt, but are you Jewish, and do you want a free trip to Israel?" The guy at the table looked down embarrassedly, and told me he is Jewish, but does not want the free trip to Israel. The girl at the table looked me straight in the eye and said, "I am not Jewish, but would LOVE the free trip to Israel. Maybe if we could somehow change places, I would be happy to go!"
This happened more than once. Can you imagine if you went to a Catholic, and asked them if they wanted a free trip to Rome, or the Vatican, and they hurriedly declined? Its hard to fathom.
Admittedly, throughout our glorious history, us Jews have sometimes had it rough. We have been through the Crusades, expulsions, pogroms, and outright genocide. However people mistakenly think that all of our problems would just go away if we ran away from our identities and just melded into the culture in which we live, losing any trace of our past. But that doesn't work. History has brutally and tragically disproven that false premise.
The point, dear Henry, is that all of us in general--including the thousands upon thousands of readers of this blogg across the globe--and us Jews in particular, need to be proud of where we come from. We shouldn't be shy about our religion. We should flaunt it. Just like the bright yellow pepper stands apart in my blue salad bowl on the dinner table, so too, we need to stand proud in the salad bowl that is American Society.