And who else made Bernie run away from the embrace of Judaism into Brigitte’s waiting arms? The parents, the good Jewish parents. The loving Jewish mother who took off her golden nose rings and made a Golden Calf, which she worships avidly. The Golden Calf called “success” and “money” and “making it” and “my son-the-doctor.” The Golden Calf of material success before which she burns incense and for which she threw the God of Jewish values into the trash cans of medieval obscurantism. The Jewish father whose values are those of the garment center and the racetrack and bagels and lox on Sunday morning before taking the family out to the Chinese restaurant on Sunday after-noon. The Jewish father who tries to think like a gentile, act like a gentile, dress like a gentile, drink like a gentile, and curse like a gentile and then demand that Bernie marry a “nice Jewish girl.”
The Jewish parents whose credo is upward and upward in wealth and status and who created a comfortable Judaism that would accommodate their needs. Who moved to the suburbs and created a suburban Judaism, and a suburban God, ethical and cultured and nice- a vaguely Jewish Santa Claus. Who turned down the Orthodox synagogue of their parents, grandparents and generations beyond because it was too Jewish and too out of step with modern times and too difficult and too outmoded and not compatible with the new pagan-Jewish lifestyle they were creating. Who turned either to the Reform that gave both status (how familiar their Christian friends would find it if ever they stopped by) as well as license (one could be almost anything and do the same in that incredible anarchy known as Reform or -better still- to that new and upcoming movement known as “Conservatism.”
How many Jewish refugees from Brooklyn and the Bronx arrived in their new status symbols in Massapequa find themselves surrounded by strange natives known generally as “goyim” with large tribal groups called “Protestants?” How many of the Jews, in panic, fearing that Bernie would come home with a Mary rather than a Shirley banded together to build a quick temple of “Jewish Center” to save their precious ones? How many of them who did not know a Jewish concept from a Catholic catechism decided to call it ‘Conservative’ because Orthodox is ‘too old-fashioned’ and Reform is ‘like a church?’ And how amazed was the minuscule, unimportant Conservative movement to be suddenly besieged with requests for ‘Conservative rabbis’ that did not exist? And how many Conservative temples were suddenly hiring Orthodox rabbis who prostituted themselves to the Long Island god of gold? And how true it is that it was not the Conservative movement (sic) that built all the new temples that suddenly made them so prominent but the ordinary, ignorant Jews who bought a temple just as they bought any other commodity they needed and who set the terms of the deal. Bernie’s Parents bought their temple and their rabbi and proceeded to create Judaism and God in their own image. The garment center knew exactly how to cut a suit to fit…
Judaism, but not too much, If Bernie was sent to that vast cultural wasteland known as the “religious” or “Hebrew” school which he so despised, it was not so much that he become religious as so that he might acquire ‘culture.’ (At least enough to let him babble the proper words on the great day of Bar Mitzvah initiation rites.) lf he came home and mentioned something about Sabbath observance or a ban on ham and bacon, his parents smiled and told him that “we are not sending you there for that” or “you do not have to listen to everything the teacher says.” They played games with Bernie and thought that they could deceive him never realizing in their own stupidity, that no one can ultimately deceive a child. They created a fraud and thought that they could foist it on their Bernie. They created a Judaism that was created in their own image- a Cohenism or a Goldbergism or a Schwartzism and tried to pretend that it was Judaism. They defrauded themselves because it so suited them and thought that Bernie would grow up to be as fraudulent, hypocritical, materialistic and disgusting as they. But he did not. That which makes Sammy run does not necessarily affect Bernie.