Even I'm Verklempt
I have been absent from this blog for a few weeks, after a few half-hearted attempts at an entry on rumors about whether Sarah Palin might have some recent Jewish ancestors, and one about yet another stupid comment by Jesse Jackson. I dug in briefly, and learned a few things.
First, Sarah Palin is not Jewish, not that anyone, at this point, would care if she is the reincarnation of the Vilna Gaon (who was a genius, so that particular reincarnation would be a stretch). All they care is that she and Todd catch the next snow machine back to Wasilla, post haste.
And about Jesse’s dumb comment (something to the effect that a President Obama would put an end to “Zionist” control of American foreign policy) – I just couldn’t get myself too worked up about a guy who has effectively trash-talked his way out of any meaningful role in the Obama administration. To tell the truth, I have been sort of moping the last few weeks about the polls that correctly predicted the election of Obama.
But I no longer cared about Sarah Palin, who I thought was a disastrous choice from the moment of her selection. And I no longer cared about Jesse Jackson, who is an irrelevancy, though I must admit that seeing him tear up at Obama’s victory speech last night left me a little teary also. Yes, me, who only hours earlier had enthusiastically clicked on the McCain/Palin box on the touch-screen voting machine.
Watching both McCain’s concession speech and Obama’s victory speech, I was, as Mike Meyer’s Linda Richman character would have said, verklempt. Continue reading
Welcome to Israel
Ok, time to get your assimilation anxieties sorted out. The numbers of Jews and kinda-sorta Jews and non-Jews married to Jews or who are children or grandchildren of Jews is growing, and that’s good, right? No, says Israel’s Jewish Agency Chairman Ze’ev Haifetz, that’s bad. Well, it’s good that the number of “real” Jews is increasing—by 70,000 worldwide in the last year, according to the Jewish Agency. But how about those kinda-sortas? The ones who can become Israeli citizens under the Law of Return, but who might not pass Halachic muster for purposes of marriage to a “real” Jew under Israeli law. Apparently we are producing too many of that sort here in the U.S. The recent population study by TJA says that there are more than 11 million Americans who are eligible for Israeli citizenship under the Law of Return, which applies some of the who’s-a-Jew principles of the Numemberg laws in deciding who gets ushered through the new immigrants hall at Ben-Gurion airport. This number is more than twice the 5.3 million Americans who define themselves as Jewish, and is proof, says Bielski, that assimilation is growing. The study data, he proclaims, shows that there is “a tangible danger of assimilation hanging over the Jewish people.”
Really? I don’t follow the math. If more Jews are good, then why are more quasi-Jews dangerous? I see it as a glass half-full situation. But the professional Jewish Chicken Littles, who have been wringing their hands about intermarriage and assimilation since the Book of Ruth hit the shelves, apparently do not. Imagine if all those 11 million suddenly logged onto ElAl.com looking to cash in their Law of Return chits? Caroline Kennedy, John Kerry, even Ozzy Osborne‘s kids Kelly and Jack. As far as I’m concerned, they’re all mishpocheh, God love ‘em – as Joe Biden’s mom would say.
Photo courtesy of kkkondon.
By Inthemoment contributor Larry Kessner
A few years ago, not long after my daughter’s Bat Mitzvah, I was talking to a good friend who had attended the service at our large, Washington DC-area Reform temple. My friend, whose politics are similar to mine, was raised Baptist in South Carolina and educated at Princeton and Georgetown. He is funny, very well-informed and culturally aware (meaning discard any preconceived notions you may have about Southern Baptists) I asked him what he thought of the service, which was the first he had attended at a Reform synagogue.
“Interesting,” he said. “I half expected Ted Kennedy to march up there any minute. The sermon sounded like the Democratic Party platform. Is that what your religion is about?”
“Good question,” I responded. Continue reading
By InTheMoment contributor Larry Kessner.
Maybe in the Czech Republic, poets can become president, but not here. Maybe in France they like their presidents to be descendants of historians, education ministers, and even kings, but not here. Here, if you spring from the loins of the upper classes, like Bushes 41 and 43, you need to remember to gnaw on pork rinds, “clear brush,” and drop your g’s. (Oh yeah, and say “nuke-u-ler”).
American Jews, by a wide margin, prefer intellectuals—actual or imagined—to cowboys or warriors when it comes time to vote for a president. But time and time again, when the votes are counted, they are disappointed. In America, even if you are a member of the intellectual elite, like Hillary Clinton, you want to make a point of challenging your opponent to a bowling match, or slugging down a boilermaker with the boys at Bronko’s Lounge.
Yes, Jews always vote for the candidate who is spun as intellectually elevated. The only exception to this is when Continue reading
By Inthemoment contributor Larry Kessner.
OK, I understand why the Jews are nervous about Sarah Palin. Forget all the chatter about Obama being “out of the mainstream” because he’s Kenyan/Kansan/Hawaiian/Malaysian-ite-whatever-whatever. He’s not out of my mainstream. The top of my class was full of Obamas. I knew Obamas in college, law school and just about every walk of life.
For many American Jews, it’s Palin, not Obama, who is a creature from another planet. She does not live in our Volvo-ridden neighborhoods, she does not visit Wellfleet in August, she did not attend any of the colleges on our kids’ lists (and she went to five of them), and her book club (if she had one, which is unlikely) would not be full of therapists and lawyers.
So, naturally, she gives Jews the heebie-jeebies. No pun intended.
And it’s not just the things she doesn’t do. It’s the things she does do. Names her kids Track, Trig, etc. Shoots large animals, guts them and poses next to them while smiling beatifically. Has a pregnant teenager and makes the poor kid marry her self-described “(expletive) redneck” baby-daddy. Lets her husband spend his down-time vrooming snowmobiles across Alaska.
Most of us just don’t get her. Continue reading