Israel just conducted free elections, and American Jewish organizations and their non-Orthodox rabbis and non-Orthodox denominations are going absolutely berserk here in the United States. It really is insane. It has not been this bad since Major League Baseball determined that one-time Jewish baseball superstar Ryan Braun had been cheating all along and taking performance-enhancing drugs — a shanda fahr di Yidden! They just cannot stand that Israel’s voters freely opted for a Jewish government devoted to core Jewish values, abandoning 74 years of socialism and wokeism.
For years, we Orthodox Jews have found a way to make our peace with the quirks of Israeli electoral politics that denied freedoms to all non-socialist Jews, forced Marxist socialism down throats, violated Judaic religious beliefs, and threatened the very character of the Jewish people. Such governments socially engineered by socialist whim. They decided people need washing machines, not dryers. So they pushed Jews to hang-dry their clothes by doubling the prices on dryers, not washers. They decided that people did not need to record television shows so they allowed fair market prices on televisions but imposed double pricing on video recorders. They imposed double prices on freezers, though they left refrigerators alone, because they decided in Haifa or wherever that people do not need freezers. However, many Orthodox Jews need extra freezer space to feed their larger families, often located distant from nearby butchers. Most recently, they imposed punitive taxes on disposable plates and flatware, a staple of large Orthodox families.
For decades the socialist tyrants forced workers to violate their consciences and to join Marxist socialist unions. In order for me to teach in Israel I was coerced into joining the Histadrut Labor Mafia, and they deducted Histadrut dues payments from my salary. I fought them and was told I would be fired. So I held long talks with my students and decided that I could do more good teaching those teens and paying protection money to the Marxist union mafia than by standing on principle and leaving those kids with a replacement teacher who enjoyed supporting the Histadrut.
At the supermarket, the Marxist socialists charged fair market for cornflakes but more than double the market value of Rice Krispies. I asked why. They explained: People need cornflakes; people do not need rice krispies.
Who made these crazy rules and laws? What cretin apparatchik in Haifa or on Dizengoff had the right to impose on me a breakfast of “cock-a-doodle-do” when my ears yearned for “snap, crackle, pop?”
Most famously, these tyrants of Marxist philosophy decided that, because everyone must be equal, therefore no one in Israel could have color televisions. TV sets were being manufactured to display in color, so the socialist Marxists forced every television sold in Israel to have a special device inserted into the mechanism to kill the color picture and make it telecast in glorious black-and-white. Israelis in the underground — perhaps inspired by the Irgun, Lechi, and Haganah underground of yore? — then invented a counter-device to insert into the TV, too, when the government was not watching, a device that could reverse the pernicious insanity of the black-and-white device. So you bought a TV, paid the higher prices being charged now that they were being made with the new technology for color programs, then had to pay additionally for the anti-color device to make your screen black-and-white, and then paid even extra for the underground illegal device to outsmart the Marxist device.
That buys a lot of Rice Krispies. Atlas would have shrugged.
The Marxists who ran Israel drove many good and honest people to be crooks. Taxes were absurd, so people played around with their finances: three sets of books. One to show loss — for the government. One to show profit — for prospective new buyers of the business. And one to show the honest numbers, to decide whether the business was prospering or failing. The Marxist socialist government bureaucrats determined blanketly that all independent entrepreneurs — that is, all non-salaried Israelis — by definition cheat the tax system by cooking their books, so the Marxists imposed an automatic extra tax on entrepreneurs — even honest ones — to compensate the government for the presumed tax cheating. That meant that honest entrepreneurs, who never would have cheated, saw they must pay extra tax on the assumption that they are cheating. Nu? So they had no choice but to cheat in parallel to the penalty tax, just to even the score. After two thousand years of Jews in Exile having to even the finances when Jew-hating governments imposed special head taxes on them, now Israel’s Marxist socialists found a way to preserve a tradition.
Jews arbitrarily were denied permits to build on Jewish land. When Jews got permission to build, the government unreasonably set restrictions on how many meters the house could be, how much land could surround the house.
Talk about freedom? Who decided that, after 3300 years of defining a Jew as one born to a Jewish mother or converted according to normative Jewish law (halakha), suddenly a kid whose parents both are non-Jewish and whose two grandmothers and one grandfather are non-Jewish gets to be defined as a “Jew” by virtue of having descended from one Jewish grandfather who married a non-Jew and then reared a non-Jewish household? By what right was the Law of Return and that status quo changed in 1970?
So now non-Orthodox and woke secular American Jews cannot abide a freely elected Jewish government? There are many reasons for their hysteria. A primary factor is that so many American Jewish leaders themselves are as Jewish as Marilyn Monroe was. And if they are Jewish, odds are enormous that their kids or their major donors who bolster their organizations and temples follow that Monroe Doctrine: Marry a non-Jewish lady, have her get a reform or conservative “conversion,” and then call her and her non-Jewish children “Jewish.” Thus their panic over an Israeli government that may define Jews by the normative definition of 3300 years instead of the Hitler definition of one grandparent. It has been said that one reason so many secular and non-Orthodox American Jews always have hated Trump is that, unlike them, he has Jewish grandchildren. Think about that.
Some 30-40 percent of people in America who define themselves as “Jews” simply are not Jews. More than 50 percent of people who identify as Reform Jews are intermarried. These are facts. Reform rabbi leaders brag on these facts; they actually are proud of all their intermarriages. (See Jewish Louisville, Nov. 23, 2018, p.9: “Audacious Hospitality”: “Interfaith families are now the majority of the movement, [Reform Rabbi Rick] Jacobs said.”) Indeed, some prominent American rabbis at American reform temples are outright non-Jews themselves. In America it all is a game: Marilyn Monroe is Jewish. Elizabeth Taylor is Jewish. Find a reform rabbi, take a few classes on civil rights and diversity, learn a hora and a few Hebrew words, pay the bill, and — Mazal Tov! — welcome to the tribe.
So now a news report comes that a Conservative Rabbi at a woke conservative temple in Manhattan — not to be confused with another woke Conservative temple that cut out lox from after-services “kiddush” to save the species! — has announced that he and his conservative temple no longer will recite the prayer for Israel.
Hmm. Instead of commenting directly, I close by sharing a parable that a Christian pastor friend once told me, and the wise reader can connect the dots:
There was a mega-plex church in Texas, one of the biggest, that attracted thousands of worshippers every week. One Sunday morning, as the pastor was in the middle of his homily, a young fellow in his 20’s walked into the church, continued down the aisle as the pastor was speaking, and plunked himself down right in the middle of the walkway aisle because all the seats were filled. He was dressed in torn jeans, a stained undershirt, and had no shoes or socks on.
Amid a discernible hush in the congregation, the gentle pastor paused and softly said to the young man: “Son, Ah would like yew to go home and speak to Gawd. Tell Him where yew were this mornin’, and ask Him how to dress when yew come in to this church. And then please come back next week.”
The following Sunday morning, the identical scene: The fellow shows up midway through the pastor’s sermon, plunks himself down in the aisle, is wearing torn jeans and a stained undershirt, and no shoes or socks. The congregation is even more mortified, but the pastor is calm and loving:
“Son, did yew do as Ah asked? Did yew speak to Gawd and ask Him how to dress at this church?”
The young man responded in a surprisingly respectful tone: “Yes, Pastor. I spoke to Him. I told him where I had gone to worship. I asked him how to dress properly at this church.”
The Pastor was surprised — and impressed: “And did Gawd respond to yew? Did He answer?”
“And what did He say to yew about the proper way to dress at this church?”
In the most humble and respectful of tones, the young man replied: “He told me He does not know because He’s never been here.”