web analytics
July 7, 2015 / 20 Tammuz, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

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


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.

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.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

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

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Hosseini Khamenei
Iranian Expert: Khamenei Says No to Signed Deal as Iran Already Getting All it Wants
Latest Indepth Stories
President Obama

Sources say seemingly irreconcilable differences between the 2 main parties, Washington and Tehran.

Seder at the White House. The one without the kippa is President Obama.

Instead of accepting reality, the President is trying to hold on to an illusion.

peace in our time iran

Those who suggest further capitulation to Iran are wrongly harming the interests of the West.

Haneen Zoabi (L) and Basel Ghattas (R), Arab members of Israel's parliament, both participated in flotillas attempting to break Israel's legal naval blockade of the Gaza strip.

Few Arab Israelis found anything positive in the decision of its MKS to join any Gaza flotilla.

US Jews prefer to be like their non-Jewish liberal friends complaining about “settlements” and Bibi

New Israel Fund & its supporters must be countered; Israel’s in the midst of an unprecedented storm

PM Netanyahu this week identified ISIS and Iran as Israel’s primary threat. It is a planetary threat that carries the promise of peace.

Haym Solomon, overlooked hero of the Revolutionary War, was America’s “Funding Father.”

Latvia, July 4, 1941 they forced many Jews in the shul putting it on fire; everyone was burned alive

There’s blood on the reporters’ hands AND New Israel Fund for funding groups feeding lies to the UN

Respect & appreciation for our country is not only a civic value but an essential Jewish one as well

When words lose meaning, the world becomes an Orwellian dystopia; a veritable Tower of Babel

Israel, like the non-radical Islamic world. will be happy see the ISIS beheaded for once.

Kids shouldn’t have “uninstructed” Internet access, better to train them how to use it responsibly

What if years from now, IS were to control substantial territory? What world havoc would that wreak?

Rambam writes the verse’s double term refers to 2 messiahs: first King David; 2nd the final Mashiach

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.

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: