Wednesday, July 7, 2010
Maybe a Time for Jews to Affirm Common Cause
The beautiful sound of my daughter singing in Hebrew as she practices for her bat mitzvah wafted upstairs. I don't remember being that lyrical 41 years ago, or being that diligent in practicing.
I do remember loaning my cassette tape recorder to Morris Barocas for what seemed like a year as he practiced for his bar mitzvah. It must have worked. Morris went on to have a great celebration and become a prominent physician.
The bar or bat mitzvah is a coming of age for young Jews, and there is little about the experience that can be taken for granted.
As a baby boomer, I have been fortunate to grow up with more freedom and opportunity for Jews than perhaps anytime in America.
White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel celebrated his son's recent bar mitzvah by taking him to Israel. The prayer service was held at the Western Wall, part of the Temple Mount and considered the most sacred spot in Judaism.
Jews have lived or yearned for Jerusalem for thousands of years. "Next year in Jerusalem" was the rallying cry for Jews in concluding the Passover service of freedom whether they lived in grandeur or poverty, whether they lived in the Spain of Maimonides or were held captive in the squalor of a concentration camp.
Roger Cohen in a recent column in The New York Times noted that his daughter had just celebrated her bat mitzvah. I bet Cohen and Emanuel are as worried as I am for the future of their kids, as worried as many Jewish parents all over the world are becoming, as strange standards of morality are being applied, all seeming to have the same sickening conclusive judgment, one heard with the same fury and hostility of every pogrom, Inquisition or goose step that has marched through history.
The Turks attack Israel's morality, as does Iran President Mahmoud Amadinejad, Hamas, Hezbollah and those moralists at the United Nations.
It's flattering, no doubt, that enemies of Israel can count upon the shock value of their words because of the high expectations for Israel, and indeed all Jews.
Turks gave the world the first taste of genocide in the 20th century when they chased and slaughtered Armenian civilians by the hundreds of thousands. For good measure, Turks were generally regarded as the most brutal of captors during World War I, and seemed to take particular delight in abusing surrendered British troops. Kurds do not have anything kind to say about Turks either.
Iran would be comical were it not so deadly. Amadinejad brutalizes its people, yet shamelessly rebukes Americans and Israelis at every turn.
The Egyptians do not want an armed Hamas on their doorstep. Yet, Egypt moves to strip citizenship from any Egyptian daring to marry an Israeli Jew; shades of the Nazi Nuremberg laws.
Following the 2006 war, the United Nations passed strict resolutions, as did the Lebanese government, against the re-arming of Hezbollah. Hezbollah now has four times the advanced missiles and a charter calling for Israel's destruction.
So, why would Israel want Hamas becoming another Hezbollah? Hamas is as unrelenting in hatred of Jews as is Hezbollah.
The United Nations, which has never gone broke asking the world and especially the United States to pay for its every crackpot charge against Israel, winks at the missile buildup by the enemies of Israel.
These are disturbing times for Jews. We are not perfect and certainly Israel is not perfect. This may be a necessary time, however, for Jews to reaffirm their common cause.
For perfect, I would commend you to the melodious notes of a beautifully sung bat mitzvah service. It doesn't happen so often.
For the more ubiquitous sounds of hatred, I would merely commend you to the hypocrites attacking Israel.
Neil Berro of New Haven has worked for Jewish and Israeli causes since 1981. Readers may write to him in care of the Register, 40 Sargent Drive, New Haven 06511. His e-mail address is email@example.com.