web analytics
April 20, 2014 / 20 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Spa 1.2 Combining Modern Living in Traditional Jerusalem

A unique and prestigious residential project in now being built in Mekor Haim Street in Jerusalem.



Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

‘Next Great Big Jewish Idea’ Is A Long-Forgotten One


Share Button

Every January, in an annual rite, nearly half of all Americans make New Year’s resolutions to lose weight. About half of those will pledge eternal servitude to their new diet plans. Sometimes the diets work – in the short run. We drop a size or two, look younger, more svelte and bask in insincere gratuitous compliments from colleagues and friends. But two-thirds of Americans who lose weight gain it back within a year. Over 90 percent gain it back within five years.

Nevertheless, we are introduced each year to the “next great big idea” in easy weight loss – from the Cabbage Soup diet of the 1980’s to the South Beach diet to The Fat Smash diet to the French Women Don’t Get Fat diet. We Americans will spend close to $40 billion on diet books and paraphernalia this year alone.

The rules of human nature are inviolate. We are always looking for the quick fix. Endlessly searching for a miraculous instantaneous elixir, we are suckers for every new diet plan that comes out. Titles like The 3-Hour Diet and 21 Pounds in 21 Days speak to our immediate desire for dramatic results, fast.

Meanwhile, despite all the diet books, researchers at Johns Hopkins University predict that 75 percent of Americans will be overweight by 2015 and 41 percent will be obese. Currently, two-thirds of Americans are overweight. (Full disclosure: this writer is not in the minority group.) Meanwhile, about 60 percent of Americans do not get enough physical activity. Let’s face it: for most of us, the only exercise we get is jumping to conclusions.

Back in the 1950’s, the “next great big idea” for weight loss was something called the vibrating hip belt machine. Some of us old enough to remember can recall television commercials in which a woman (usually reading a book) stood with a belt wrapped around her waist while a gyrating, noisy contraption supposedly jiggled and vibrated away the excess pounds. The allure of the belt was simple: no sweat, no energy, minimal time commitment and no major financial obligations.

If we viewed photos of the vibrating hip belt weight loss machine today, we would probably laugh out loud at the absurdity. We all know the adage: if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

The stark reality is that the only way to lose weight and keep it off is to eat less and exercise more. That means making long-term lifestyle commitments to exercise and diet. It’s not glamorous. It’s not immediate or easy. It takes time to implement. But it’s the only thing that works.

Seeing that fads are so attractive, it should come as no great surprise that, with grand fanfare and headlines, a major Jewish philanthropic foundation recently announced the offering of a substantial financial prize and an academic appointment at a prestigious university to the individual who comes up with the “next great big idea” to change the way Jews think about themselves and their community.

There is nothing wrong with seeking creative ideas to reinvigorate our community, but they are like fad diets compared to long-term diet and exercise. The “next great big Jewish idea” was initiated 2,000 years ago, but we Jews of the 21st century have developed collective amnesia and have forgotten it.

The great scholar and hero Yehoshua Ben Gamla provided the answer in 64 C.E. His “next great big idea” was mandating that each Jewish community pay for the Jewish education of its children. We are told that without Ben Gamla’s initiatives, Jewish survival and Torah would have been lost.

Ben Gamla’s communal prioritization of resources for Jewish education has worked for thousands of years – until today. We Jews are wonderful at establishing charities for the welfare of the larger Jewish community. We have rightfully adopted policies that include housing the homeless, caring for the elderly, feeding the hungry and supporting the State of Israel. Somewhere along the way, though, we abandoned our children. There is no longer a sense of communal responsibility and obligation to educate our children in Jewish schools.

Case in point: the annual gathering of Federations in Nashville this past November. According to the published program, during the four-day conference, 112 time slots were allocated for meetings to discuss major issues facing the Jewish people. Only one of those time slots, where attendance was limited by invitation only, dealt exclusively with the crisis of funding Jewish education.

Share Button

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

No Responses to “‘Next Great Big Jewish Idea’ Is A Long-Forgotten One”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
BDS targets Zabar's; Carole Zabar promotes BDS proponents.
All in the Family: BDS Protests Zabars; Carole Zabar Promotes BDS
Latest Indepth Stories
Imam Suhail Webb who boasted his Muslim community persuaded Brandeis President Fred Lawrence to withdraw an invitation to Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

At Brandeis, much of what counts as Western civilization got cold feet and won’t stand with Hirsi Ali.

Text of anti-Semitic flyer distributed to Jews in Donetsk, Ukraine on Passover 2014.

But the lesson from this meditation is that hidden behind the anti-semitic act is the greatest light.

Yossi Klein HaLevi

As support of their messianic dream, Halevi and Antepli approve dishonoring Hirsi Ali as a ‘renegade.’

matza

If itis a mitzva to eat matza all Pesach, then why is there no berakha attached to it?

When we are united with unconditional love, no stone will be raised against us by our enemies.

The reporter simply reports the news, but it is greater to be inspired to better the situation.

The Big Bang theory marked the scientific community’s first sense of the universe having a beginning.

Freeing convicted murderers returns the status of Jewish existence to something less than sanctified.

“The bigger they are the harder they fall” describes what God had in mind for Olmert.

We, soldiers of the IDF, who stand guard over the people and the land, fulfill the hopes of the millions of Jewish people across the generations who sought freedom.

How much is the human mind able to grasp of the Divine?

Jews have brought the baggage of the galut (exile) mentality to the modern state of Israel.

The Haggadah is an instruction manual on how to survive as strangers in strange lands.

It’s finally happened. New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan reported on her blog that “many readers…wrote to object to an [April 2] article…on the breakdown in peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians,” claiming “[they] found the headline misleading and the article itself lacking in context.” Ms. Sullivan provided one such letter, quoted the […]

Nor did it seem relevant that according to widely circulated media reports, Rev. Sharpton was caught on an FBI surveillance video discussing possible drug sales with an FBI agent.

More Articles from George D. Hanus

It makes no sense. It defies logic. You’ve got two reliable statistics from two reputable sources and yet they stand in utter opposition to each other, like statistical non-sequiturs.

Released in 1987, Where’s Waldo? was the first of illustrator Martin Handford’s Waldo series of books to become a sensation. Where’s Waldo? introduces readers to the eponymous hero, a distinctively dressed young man who sets off on a worldwide journey. Waldo travels to everyday places, like the beach, ski slopes and the zoo, each of which is detailed by two-page illustrated spreads filled with people and activities. Somewhere amidst the intricately crowded scene is the camouflaged Waldo, and readers are asked to scour the detailed illustration to locate the lost traveler.

Nearly 52 years ago, on October 5, 1956, a newly released movie billed itself as “the greatest event in motion picture history.”

There is an allegorical story about a luxury passenger ship crossing the Atlantic Ocean that hits an iceberg and begins to sink. On the lower decks, the crew and passengers make a valiant but unsuccessful effort to plug the hole in the ship’s hull. On the upper deck, first-class passengers rearrange the deck chairs, sun themselves and play shuffleboard, seemingly oblivious to the disaster around them. Meanwhile, the ship’s band plays on.

Every year Forbes magazine publishes a list of the highest paid individuals in the world. This year Forbes informed us that the actor Johnny Depp made $92 million while Nicole Kidman was Hollywood’s highest paid actress, commanding an estimated $16 million per movie.

Every January, in an annual rite, nearly half of all Americans make New Year’s resolutions to lose weight. About half of those will pledge eternal servitude to their new diet plans. Sometimes the diets work – in the short run. We drop a size or two, look younger, more svelte and bask in insincere gratuitous compliments from colleagues and friends. But two-thirds of Americans who lose weight gain it back within a year. Over 90 percent gain it back within five years.

Everyone is familiar with the age-old question: If a tree falls in the forest, but nobody is around to hear it, does it make a sound? To some, that may sound like a silly rhetorical quandary, but it actually provides a wonderful metaphor to describe a huge problem facing today’s Jewish community.

In Yiddish folklore, the real-life Polish town of Chelm was characterized as a legendary community of fools. According to this folkloric tradition, Chelm’s residents were exceedingly proud of their tradition of non-wisdom and convoluted insight into the world’s problems. They viewed themselves as brilliant.

    Latest Poll

    Now that Kerry's "Peace Talks" are apparently over, are you...?







    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/next-great-big-jewish-idea-is-a-long-forgotten-one/2008/01/09/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: