Uncategorized

Dear Senator Kaine

I contacted my senator, Tim Kaine about his decision to boycott Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech to Congress.  His reply to me was that the speech broke protocol.  I decided to write him back.

18 March 2015

Dear Senator Kaine,

Thank you for your reply to my email. However, let us be honest. Your failure to hear or meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu had nothing to do with protocol. You showed you are a political hack of the Obama administration and a coward. You care nothing about Israel, or the safety of American citizens and you do not have a problem with an unstable, dictatorial regime obtaining nuclear weapons.

The Prime Minister was concerned about Iran’s plans for Israel, but also about Iran’s plans for the U.S., not his election. Netanyahu has much more to lose at home than gain here. As Iran develops missiles that can carry nuclear warheads to Europe and the U.S., only an idiot would assume Iran would not use its nuclear might to bring the U.S. to its knees. This administration’s current negotiations are only to appease Iran. Until the Prime Minister’s speech brought attention to Iran’s plans, the administration was hoping to shove an agreement down our throats without any discussion with Congress. The thought that Iran could be removed from the terror watch list should make your politically correct stomach turn. Yet, I only hear silence from you. The administration feels (and as an Obama groupie, you must agree) a bad agreement with Iran is better than no agreement at all. Our President is determined to walk in Neville Chamberlain’s shoes. And you are willing to tie and polish them. We know “Peace in our time,” brought neither peace nor time.

We have no business talking to Iran. Iran executes gays, anyone accused of adultery, blasphemy, Christians and Jews. Women, religious and ethnic minorities are second-class citizens. In Iran, Sharia law would have dictated a three-times married man of questionable moral character be executed or imprisoned. In other words, with Iran at the helm, there would be no “Senator” Kaine.

I will tell you what is against protocol. This administration interfered in the election of a leader of a country that is our closest ally. The administration you support did everything in its power to keep the Prime Minister from being re-elected. The president broke protocol by not calling the Prime Minister to congratulate him. His stooge, John Kerry was given that task. I am surprised he didn’t delegate it to the D.C. dogcatcher. Since protocol is so dear to you, I should have heard your voice telling us that this was wrong. Where was your outrage?

You need to think about your political ambitions and legacy. So far you have demonstrated you have no problem with the destruction of Israel. You made it clear you do not care much about the U.S. or its citizens.  You will support whatever dumb-assed agreement the administration delivers. You may have a bunker under the Capitol to retreat to, but we do not. Your decision will come back to haunt you.

Sincerely,

Diana E. Rubin

Advertisements
Standard
Judaism, Uncategorized

Aversion to Indifference: Why it is good to be a part of the Jewish People

Judaism abhors indifference. Read the list of founders and donors of any organization that protects human, animal or ecological rights and the list has an overwhelming number of Jewish last names. Mr. Goldberg might not write a check to help Jewish children get an education, but he will bet the farm on a children’s museum or hospital.   Organizations like the Peace Corps have an inordinate number of Jewish volunteers.  Jews make up a high number of Nobel Prize recipients. That is because, as a stiff-necked people, we like to shake things up. We try to change things for the better.

When people convert to Judaism, they give a lot of reasons for doing so, but the love of justice and compassion, the aversion to indifference ranks right up there. No one says, “I converted because I want to give up 26 hours of my life a week to keep the Shabbat” or “I just hate shrimp.” Behind every Jew is the belief that, “I can make this world a better place.”

This has been an awful week for the Jewish people. As a nation, we plunged into the depths of mourning as parents buried Eyal, Naftali and Gilad. We were sickened as an Arab teen, Mohammad Khdeir, was kidnapped and killed in revenge. Our reactions are different, and that is what makes the Jewish people different. It took the discovery of the three bodies (one of the boys is an American) before president Obama made a weak statement. He called Mohammad’s death heinous, a strong word he refused to use when the victims were Jewish and American. All of their deaths were heinous. Our president is the spiritual and political descendent of Jimmy Carter. He believes that Jewish blood can be spilled like water, and cares nothing about the death of an American at the hands of terrorists. He is indifferent.

As a people and nation, the Jews of Israel were sickened by this act of vengeance. We are angry,  and we are demanding the lawless individuals who took this boy from his family be found and punished. The words, “justice shall you pursue,” is seared into the Jewish psyche.  We know we are better than that.  As I write this, his murderers have been arrested. This is because, in the end, the uncle of Naftali Frenkel said it best. “Murder is murder. One should not differentiate between bloods, be it Arab or Jew.”  His words echo our heartfelt beliefs.  Of course, the murderers of the three boys remain at large, protected by their sick and twisted community and ideology. No one in Mohammad’s family condemned the murder of Jews, because by their very existence, Jews deserve to be murdered.

We are different. The value we place on life is different. Islam may be the religion of “peace,” but words and practice are two different things. Their leaders, at least at this point of time, elevate death and place no value on life. It is an affront to believe that Allah sanctions the murder of people based on their religion.  People who really believe this are atheists.  They believe they are G-d and can function in that role.  We cannot be indifferent to suffering. It is not part of Jewish belief. It has no place in the Jewish mind. It cannot be part of the Jewish soul.

The final phone call from Naftali Frenkel has been released. I cannot bear to hear it, but I read the transcript in Hebrew. Each boy was told, “head down” and a muffled gunshot followed. After their murder, there was jubilation. It was the same reaction from the same community that danced and gave their children sweets upon hearing of the deaths of 3,000 people on September 11th. They are indifferent to the suffering of others, we are not; we refuse to be indifferent.  No matter how estranged from Judaism we may be, that demanding little sliver of G-d in our soul does not allow us to be indifferent.

I am a teacher in an alternative school. Although I mostly teach math, I also teach U.S. history, including the civil rights movement. There are similarities between the deaths of the three boys, and a young teen named Emett Tillman.

Emmett Tillman was a black teen from Chicago who was visiting relatives in Mississippi. An outgoing young man, no one told him he was not allowed to talk to a white woman. Her husband and a relative kidnapped him, gouged out his eye, shot him, wrapped him with a weight around his body, and threw his body into a river. His body was found a few days later. Like the community in the West Bank, the people of Mississippi knew who killed this young man.   Those who killed him were never properly brought to justice, because their leaders were indifferent. In their sick and twisted hearts and souls, they justified his death because of the colour of his skin. The followers of hamas (I don’t justify them with a capital “h”) justify the murders of Gilad, Eyal and Naftali, and thousands of others on the basis of religion, or on failing to adhere to the tenants they impose on religion. Their murderers think out of the same brain. America is not a perfect country, but Jews have worked hard to fight indifference and we have been successful.   Jewish volunteers worked hard for change during the civil rights movement. They still work hard today.  They were also murdered because they felt their brothers had the right to vote and participate in the American dream. American Jews worked hard to change indifference into compassion and action.

I know all of the perpetrators will face justice. Mohammad’s will face it first because we do not tolerate this kind of behavior from our own people. We are not indifferent. We will not and do not stand idly by as the blood of our brother, no matter what his religion, colour and background is shed.  The “pintele yid,” that little sliver of G-d that presents itself to us makes us care.  It makes us act. It appears to us no matter how far we stray.  It is a pain in the ass.  It also prevents us from being indifferent, and when properly nurtured, can help us change a world.

 

 

http://www.aish.com/jw/me/A-Horrific-Murder.html

Standard
Judaism, Uncategorized

Never Jewish Enough: Reflections of the neighborhood Shiksa

Never Jewish Enough: Reflections of the neighborhood Shiksa

 

One of the stark realities of being a convert to the Jewish faith is you are never really Jewish.  In spite of having two conversions (through the RCA and through a Chassidic Rav, who felt my RCA conversion might not be universally accepted), I found out again this week, that I am just the Shiksa in the neighborhood.

Last year, the Jewish community of Richmond participated in a program to Israel for Jewish women whose children were under 18.  There were no other requirements.  The women who were handpicked by our rabbi ran the gamut of the Jewish spectrum.  I was not asked to participate even though I met all of the requirements.  When I confronted the rabbi, he apologized, told me he made a “big mistake” and that if he “had it to do all over again, you would have been the first person I would have invited.” I told him I expected to be included in the upcoming trip, and his reply was, “you got it!”

This has been an unbelievably difficult school year.  Failure rates are up, despite watering down the curriculum.  When I was contacted by the school district about teaching summer school because, “we need a really good math teacher who can deal with these kids,” I declined because I would be in Israel during the summer session.

Stupid me.  A few weeks ago a member of our community came to me and said, “I thought you were going on “the” trip this summer.”  I replied that I was, and they told me that my name was not mentioned (did I mention that the participants are hand-picked?).  When my name was brought up not only as a participant, but also as part of the leadership, the rabbi replied, “I have someone else in mind.”  It was clear, once the rabbi apologized, and I had accepted his apology, he forgot about the commitment he made to me.

The women who were offered leadership positions have something I will never have, a Jewish mother (my mum is a French Protestant).  It did not matter that I have two degrees, speak several languages, have been involved in kiruv or in my former community gave weekly parsha shiurs that grew so large they had to be moved from homes to a shul.  It did not matter that I have been published and have given lectures to hundreds of people.  The women chosen have never been outside of their cloistered Jewish homes, but it was clear, they are real Jews.  I am not.

I don’t mind stepping up to the plate.  I work a midnight bingo game to help fund my daughter’s school, a kiruv organization and local food bank.  I bring meals to people in the community who are ill, in mourning or have just had a child.  I am thrilled to host a family who realizes at 5 p.m. on a Friday afternoon, they will make it to Brooklyn in time for Shabbos.   I enjoy working with every kind of Jew from every kind of background because it gives me an opportunity to share that Jews should be inclusive.

This week however, it was made clear to me that our community is exclusive, and I am not a part of it.  I am not welcome or wanted.  I will not be a part of a community whose rabbi thinks I am their Shiksa.

I went to the summer school director and groveled for a position.  After having my head handed back to me, “We really needed you to teach math! We had to find someone else.  We count on you….” I received a contract to teach English (I have multiple endorsements).  I also signed up to take a class that will be taught entirely in French.

I want to leave, I want to move. I know I will face the same prejudice in any community.   When I told my daughters what happened, they cried with me.  Of course, they wonder if their mom is not considered Jewish, are they? The Orthodox Jewish world is the only world they have ever known.  I hate the thought that their identity as Jews will be questioned.  They are really good girls, but I wonder if they ever be anything more than bastards at the family reunion?

 

Standard
Judaism, Uncategorized

Pew and Me, The Wringing of Hands Begins

The Jewish world is a buzz with the recently released Pew research study on American Jews. Pulpits are on fire and “Jewish leaders are worried.”  The study is being quoted far and wide in our community.  It breaks down like this: 71% of American Jews are intermarrying and 1/3 of American Jews below the age of 30 have no Jewish identity at all. No doubt these numbers are tragic, but the response is worse.

In the mid 1980’s, a study announced that 50% of American Jews were choosing to intermarry.  Several researchers also reported that the best way to stem this tide was to provide children with a Jewish education (no Virginia, afternoon Hebrew school does not qualify as Jewish education).  That makes sense.  Young Jews learn about their unique religion, heritage, language and culture, and they grow up with and socialize with other Jews. The more they learn, the more likely they are to remain with and want to marry people of their own background. Wow! what a revelation!

Federations across the country announced they were going to do everything possible to stem the tide of intermarriage.  They held panels, discussion groups and stood by as their own children made the same choice.  The Federation of New York (and its sister Federations across the country) continued to give most of the billion dollars raised to “Jewish” hospitals that served mostly non-Jews.  The mighty minds who were so upset by the data, refused to acknowledge the companion data that Jewish education is the most important response our community can offer. Jewish education costs money.  I watched an interaction (late 1980’s) between the Lubavitcher Rebbe and a high ranking official of the NY Federation.  He proudly told the Rebbe that the Federation had given “a quarter of a million dollars” to Lubavitch educational institutions (mind you, the Federation gave hundreds of millions of dollars to institutions that did not serve the Jewish community).  With his cutting wit, the Rebbe replied, “Why should I be satisfied with just a quarter of a million?”

Now comes the Pew study.  Once again, Federations across the country have sprung into action announcing their panels and projects.  They are going to tackle the intermarriage and assimilation problem.  The reality is they will do what they do best, wring their hands, hold another junket in a nice resort and do absolutely nothing.

Standard