Isaac Kaplan

"Is it any wonder I've got too much time on my hands?"

Monday, July 26, 2004

Appreciating the Fellow Jew

With Tisha B'Av coming up, time for a timely and slightly more pareve piece.

I guess I've been raised in a bit of a ghetto. All-Jewish elementary school, high school, and Touro College to boot. So maybe for people like me, it's a much bigger problem than it is for people in the working world. But I feel that, aside from out-of-towners, most people don't appreciate the fellow Jew. Many of us don't feel any different when we pass a Jew in the street than when we pass a non-Jew.

Maybe it's because in the big communities, there are just so many of us, Thank G-d. So we take each other for granted. Sometimes, perhaps we feel like there are too many of us. More Jews means more double-parkers. More Jews means more dirty looks for us because some people think we're rude. And more Jews means you'll see everyone you know in Great Adventures come chol hamoed.

But ultimately, a Jew is a Jew. And even a guy who doesn't give a darn; a guy who does mitzvos just to fit into the community; a guy who may not even be the best servant of G-d is still a Jew.

And I believe that this is a big part of the reason that people don't say Gut Shabbos to one another. They just don't appreciate the presence of a fellow Jew. That brotherhood, that kinship-- it's just not there.

And one thing that ticks me off to no end, that I believe is a big cause of this, is the divisive diatribe that is so often heard about other parts of the community. When you have people ripping YU, ripping Conservative, even ripping Reform, you're basically killing any potential kinship. 

Now, I'm not saying to live in fantasyland. But I believe that if criticize out of love for our bretheren rather than out of mockery and anger, we'd be doing a lot better.  But judging from a lot of the things I've seen and read (even some articles in the Yated), there's way too much of the latter and not nearly enough of the former.

I'd like to finish with an inspiring anecdote involving a tzaddik named Yehuda, a man from Jerusalem. Yehuda's buddy was discussing people who serve G-d from the heart, and not necessarily through deeds and actions. His buddy said, "'s like the Reform Jews; everything's about how you feel, but these guys don't do any mitzvos!" To which Yehuda responded: "are you saying bad things about my non-religious brothers and sisters?"

The story speaks for itself. Have an easy fast.



Blogger Michelle said...

I agree that it is really important to appreciate the presence of our brethren. It's hard, having grown up in a "ghetto" and attending Touro college. I, however, have the opportunity to appreciate the presence of Jews as I walk through the campus of Brooklyn College and am completely outnumbered by other ethnicities. I smile at every skirt and long sleeves, and they barely respond. I feel a connection with these people, secretly telling them, "we're in this together," but they don't appreciate me!!! Argh! but anyway, I completely agree with you, and it's something we should all work on at all times of the year.

3:51 PM  

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