Meir Panim’s Tiberias Free Restaurant not only provides warm meals, but the opportunity to socialize as well.
I have always been proud of the Jewish people, even when I wasn’t Jewish.
I’m a convert. I looked up to the Jews, to their strength in times of trial, to their faith when giving up all hope would have been more practical.
Nothing made me prouder than immersing myself in the mikveh and yoking myself to the Jewish people. But today I sit ashamed of what we’ve let ourselves become. We are a nation divided and broken.
Like many others I was confused when I read that the chassidic reggae singer Matisyahu shaved his beard and even more confused when he posted a cryptic message to his Twitter page: “At the break of day I look for you at sunrise when the tide comes in I lose my disguise.”
Soon it became clear that he was going through something spiritually and I couldn’t help but wonder what that was. Was he denouncing Orthodoxy as a whole? Judaism? Or maybe like all of us, he just did something without thinking.
My curiosity was extinguished when I saw the responses he was getting. The news media didn’t seem to care. The non-Jewish population questioned his motives for a moment and then moved on to someone else. No one seemed to mind all that much, except Matisyahu’s own people.
Immediately I began to see angry responses from Jews, calling him a fraud, a sellout and questioning his religiosity even after he assured the masses that he is still an observant Jew. Facebook and Twitter have been full of people mocking him and saying how typical his “spiritual journey” is.
What happened to Matisyahu is something that happens in our communities every day. We are only comfortable with those who look like us and identify themselves the same way we do. The moment people step across the imaginary lines we’ve drawn we’re unsure of how to deal with them, so we don’t. We invalidate them and look down on them as if they are less.
I signed my toddler up for a playgroup at a local Conservative synagogue, much to the horror of those around me. I was asked repeatedly what I was thinking and was told it was no place for an Orthodox child. My immediate and permanent response is “why?”
My children will grow up in a world filled with people who are different from them; the Jewish nation is less than 1 percent of the world’s population. There is no way I will raise them in a make-believe world and tell them that every Jew is just like us – and that anyone who isn’t, just isn’t as “Jewish” as we are.
We are weak because we separate ourselves from one another at every turn. We divide into groups – Orthodox, non-Orthodox, Modern Orthodox, yeshivish, chassidic. We make mental notes of who is better and who is worse based on hair coverings and skirt lengths, beards and shtreimels.
We cease to be the Jewish people and become a minority within our own minority. Worse than closing ourselves into small boxes, alienating ourselves from our own people and teaching our children to do the same, we shove others out of our circles when they don’t comply with our brand of Judaism.
When did we forget what Judaism is about? It’s about knowing, loving and pleasing Hashem. It’s about having complete faith in Him even when we can’t see the end of the road. It’s about a nation of people, forever bound to one another.
We are the people who accepted the Torah at Mt. Sinai. We above all others told Hashem “Yes! We want to do your will. We want to know you.” All the mitzvahs we do are to please him. I wonder how pleased he is when we condemn fellows Jew instead of offering our support or simply letting them figure out their lives without our interference.
Hashem speaks to each and every person as an individual. He will not tell you what Matisyahu should be doing, or your neighbor or your friend. He will only tell you about you.
The day after he publicly shaved his beard Matisyahu posted a quote by the Alter Rebbe: “I want nothing at all! I don’t want your gan eden, I don’t want your olam haba…. I want nothing but you alone.”
Perhaps this is something we should all remember when we get caught up in the politics of our lives and faiths instead of focusing on what matters. Our ultimate pursuit should be to know and to please God, not to fix our fellow Jew.
Yael Armstrong is a wife, mother and freelance writer. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
About the Author: Yael Armstrong is a wife, mother and freelance writer. She can be reached at email@example.com
If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.
Comments are closed.
No tweets found.
So much of the struggle between Israel and the Arabs continues to concern space.
Why should a young Israeli become an observant Jew when Judaism’s official representatives preserve it in its exile version?
Like Chamberlain, Obama sued the ayatollahs for peace, insisting the only alternative to appeasement is war.
I have frequently drawn up lists of what I love most about Israel, and Arik Einstein has ranked high.
This new mood among Christian Arabs has worried the communists and Arab nationalist.
After nearly five years in office it should be clear that President Obama has always been a man on a mission to change America and the world. To be sure, we couldn’t disagree more with his vision – and in this we think we speak for most Americans.
We find it noteworthy, if not surprising, that with all the well-documented systematic human rights abuses committed by governments around the world – including, but not limited to, China, Cuba, Egypt, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Sudan and Zimbabwe – not one resolution condemning any of them is planned by the UN General Assembly.
For his latest book, City College’s William Helmreich walked 120,960 blocks – in other words, nearly every block of New York’s five boroughs.
Throughout the past week we have thanked Hashem for the improbable defeat of the powerful Seleucid forces by a small, untrained band of Jewish fighters. We also celebrated the story’s one open miracle, when the menorah’s lights burned for eight consecutive days following the Temple’s rededication.
“We will not allow boys and girls to live together in state-owed student residences… All kinds of messy things are happening.”
Debate: Should “West Bank” and other politically charged terms be used by a Jewish website such as the JewishPress.com
This was the mainstream of democracy and democratic opinion: The “vital center.”
Saudi media warned that the Iran regime will not be fettered by the accord.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/divided-and-broken/2012/01/04/
Scan this QR code to visit this page online: