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Virtual Talmud


Jews, Money and the Military

When I lived in New York, the only congregants I knew in the military were veterans from World War Two and a few from Korea and Vietnam. However the demographics are very different where I now live, in the greater Washington, D.C. area. I have had several congregants serve tours of duty in Iraq and Afganistan. Some are there today. Many more congregants are veterans. Some are doctors, dentists or lawyers. Others were officers. Many served with distinction in the first Gulf War. Several of my friends are active military chaplains.
All these people have changed my attitudes towards the military and the importance of supporting our troops. Since this newest war began, I have recited a special prayer for our soldiers, and those of Israel and our other allies, over the Torah during Sabbath services. The congregation rejoiced at the news announced during services last week that one of the names of family and friends I recite each week had returned safely from his second tour of duty in Iraq.
Given all that, Jews still represent a disproportionately small percentage of the active military. That is true for other upper middle class populations as well. However, the less affluence segments of the African American community are disproportionately represented in the military. Why? Because the military offers job training and college assistance, things that may be otherwise out of reach. The basic injustice is not religious, it is economic. The military understandably does what it can to make enlistment enticing. However its leveraging of a major societal injustice (that you need money to go to college) is our fault. It is our failure that we allow society to make it so difficult for the poor to go to college so that those with few other choices decide to place their life in danger by joining the military in order to secure a college education. When those decisions fall more often to one ethnic group than another, for example to the African American community, we must confront that our political culture has institutionalized racism. That is something the Jewish community can do something about, by supporting more aid for college grants and subsidized loans so that achieving a college education is not a class privilege.
There are good and honorable reasons to join the military: to serve one’s country, to help make the world a safer place, to defend innocent people here and abroad. I honor those who have made the choice to serve. It is appropriate to financially support our troops, to an even greater extent than we currently do, for the service they render in faithfulness. However, we also must be vigilant and proactive to create the economic opportunities for everyone in our country, regardless of race or class, so that those who choose to serve do so out of real choice rather than a lack of choice.



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peter lee

posted July 6, 2007 at 1:01 pm


Brilliant.
How do we ensure a more level playing field in education for the poor and disadvantaged?
Is there a permanent underclass being over represented by one racial group?
That they took joined the military to access educational opportunities shows clearly they have the drive to upgrade and better their lives.
What are the barriers they faced? Are they man-made?
Is there evidence of the vicious circle of poverty and under-achievement?
The dice is always loaded against the poor in education (educational testing bias, cultural baggage, negative environment, and the influence of counter culture that impede and retard devlopment, etc)
What sort of intervention programs will help them?
Can the government or private sector give them loans to study? Access to tuition/after school programs?
The country pays for their dilemma in juvenile delinquencies; gangs, crime and violence (this is not to say the poor are more inclined to commit crimes or anti-social acts); but what is the crime statistics? Is a certain group over represented?
America will have to address these issues again; and hopefully reduce the rich-poor gap.



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PA reader

posted July 6, 2007 at 3:16 pm


Why is it a societal injustice that you need money to go to college? I write as one who has just shelled out a chunk of money for my older son to start college this fall. Someone has to pay for things. Why should education be any different?
It is also a myth that blacks are disproportionately getting killed in Iraq.
If you ask me, the institutionalized racism is on the part of liberals like the original poster of this who think some racial group needs special help to get to college or otherwise have opportunities. It would be much better if Jews would help Jews and let the middle-class and wealthy blacks – athletes, actors, business executives, lawyers, doctors – help blacks.
One of the reasons Jews are disproportionately underrepresented – besides the obvious one of social class – is politics. Most Jews are leftists and thus against defending the U.S. Also not to be ruled out is the anti-Semitism pervading the U.S. military. Even ignoring the war, I would think twice before advising a Jewish kid to enter the military.



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linoscript

posted July 6, 2007 at 4:25 pm


Yes, we live in a racist society. That people are surprised by such a statement only serves to highlight the extent to which this is true. An African American male friend was recently accosted by the police for smoking a cigarette on his own front steps. I have seen police stop Black men in my neighborhood for no other reason than that they were laughing together. These things happen every day. Yes, people who come from poverty are more likely to enlist than people who come from comfortable middle class households where it is assumed they will go to college. This is economic, not religious.
I’m Jewish: I’ve lived below the poverty line and have also been low-income, never middle-class, for my entire life. Where do people get the idea that all Jews are rich? Is that a religious phenomenon? Is wealth common among the most observant Jews? Is this a stereotype we want to perpetuate? How many times have I heard an ignorant person say something like, “He’s so good with money, he must have some Jewish blood in him somewhere” or “The Jews know how to make money,” or “The Jewish mafia controls Hollywood,” or “They always try to Jew you down,” or make some reference to the International Jewish Banking Conspiracy. Doesn’t that hurt you? It hurts me. I do believe that Jewish people place a higher value on education, thus it would follow that the more educated end up with higher income levels.
I don’t think most Jews or even many Jews are leftists – not from what I see on this board, and certainly not based on people I have known. It has been my experience and observation that observant Jews tend to be politically conservative – the Reform group being the most liberal. I’m a leftist, but I believe I am in the minority.
I would agree the military is virulently anti-Jewish, and would not advocate military service to anyone primarily because I believe the government is beholden to corporate interests and disregards the needs of regular people – thus, when one chooses to fight, it is to protect the wealth of the rich, not one’s fellow citizens. But if I believed government could be trusted and actually served the needs of citizens, as it does in other countries to a greater extent than in the U.S., I would support military service. It’s just that our system here is broken. One thing I will say is that Jews may be wise to try to attain positions of authority in the military, police departments, etc. if only for our own protection.
I believe in giving to any community that needs help – whether to the Jewish community to the African American community. I also believe one should support one’s own community – one’s own neighborhood, for that matter. It’s not a matter of entitlement but of respect for our common humanity. Kindness, empathy, generosity, sharing – these are important values.



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Scott R.

posted July 6, 2007 at 6:20 pm


Most Jews are leftists and thus against defending the U.S.
That is pure BS. Just because someone is left wing does not mean they don’t love their country and wouldn’t defend it. But that doesn’t mean we have to be blind fools and die for every cause the right wing dreams up.
That was just a vile statement. Shame on you.
And it was liberals that helped free the black people from segregation. It was Republican conservatives that battled to keep them in chains.



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Julie

posted July 7, 2007 at 12:53 am


I feel that if G-d has blessed some people financially, good for them! Don’t forget where it came from. If G-d hasn’t blessed others financially, well that’s life (I am sure they are blessed in other areas). Life is not fair and we are not all equal when it comes to finances or education. I don’t think we should try to put everyone on the same level.
My daughters are considered financially underprivaleged, so if there are any bleeding heart librals who wish to help me to pay for their college education, we will gladly accept! Graduations will be summer ’08 and ’10. We are Jewish.
And just a note for anyone who thinks that they are not “rich”-If you have the finances to buy a book and the education to read it-your rich! If by chance you drove your own car to the bookstore, consider yourself extra wealthy.



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Craigsolve

posted July 7, 2007 at 5:04 am


Please cite your DOD statistical references substantiating your demographic allegation.
Religion may be grounded in faith, but recruiting numbers are grounded in facts. Shows us your facts!
“the less affluence segments of the African American community are disproportionately represented in the military. Why? Because the military offers job training and college assistance, things that may be otherwise out of reach. The basic injustice is not religious, it is economic.”



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Ida D.

posted July 7, 2007 at 10:56 am


“Most Jews are leftists and thus against defending the U.S.”
I also take offense with this statement, and question it’s basis in fact. I have a 22 year-old son who has just completed 4 years at West Point Military Academy. Our family is very proud of him and his accomplishments, however I, as his Jewish mother, would never have chosen this path for him. Though I take this stance, I am not a ‘left winger’. Are we not, as Jews, encouraged “to beat our swords into plowshares and learn war no more”? Haven’t we, as unwelcome minorities, been historically discouraged or excluded from military service in the various contries we called home? As a first generation American, I only wish my parents – survivors of Nazi concentration camps – were alive to see thier grandson make such a committment to the USA.
As far as Anti-semitism in the military is concerned, my son reports no prblems yet, and wishes to thank the Jewish War Veterans for building a beautiful chapel on the West Point campus. During his years there he was a member of the Jewish chior. The best singer in the chior was a Moslem cadet who was welcomed, along with other non-Jewish cadets to join and sing Jewish prayers, songs and hymns, around the US (and even in the White House!). This openness has gone a long way towards building understanding and acceptance between future Jewish US military officers.
But, no, I’m not so naive to think that anti-semitism does not exist in the military. I am just confident that my son and other Jewish soldiers can set an example in leadership and heroism that will bit-by-bit erode these unwarranted feelings.
Why did my son go to West Point? In large part, it was because the education was ‘free’ (we could debate this ‘free’ issue all day….) and that fit into our family’s budget for college. Yes, Julie, we are ‘rich’ – we have always driven the family car or walked to the library, checked out books and read them together. You are absolutely correct. Our children go to college because the Jewish way is always through education – through the schools, the home and the Mishnah Torah.
Thanks for letting me have my say. I never intended to write this much, but it just flowed out of me.



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Yvonne M S.

posted July 7, 2007 at 1:38 pm


Hello my only comment is my mother was in France when it was being invaded. I had a family member that helped many Jewish people she lived in the south of France owned a resturant and she had a tunnel in the basement where she sent the jewish people to escape. I am glad she helped them. Amorte Yvonne



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linoscript

posted July 7, 2007 at 3:45 pm


To say “life isn’t fair” is a cop-out. What should we do then, give up and decide those who are suffering and living in substandard conditions should stay there, because it’s G-d’s will? If you saw someone bleeding to death in the street would you say, “Oh, life isn’t fair, too bad for you! Ha ha,” and walk away? I don’t think that’s what G-d expects of us. I believe we have a moral responsibility to improve the quality of life for all citizens. Everyone should have nutritious food, safe and clean housing, access to medical care and quality public education. Societies that provide for the basic needs of their citizens have a higher quality of life overall. As a bleeding heart liberal, I believe it is the proper function of government to provide for these basic needs – otherwise, what point is there for government to exist? To fund private corporations? To fight wars to line the pockets of oil barons? Nope. Government should serve the needs of the people. If it can’t do that, the system is useless and does not deserve the gift of a soldier’s sacrifice.



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Tina

posted July 7, 2007 at 4:47 pm


I have seen a young black girl cry in a fairly large West-Coast school, when she got her test back. Trust me, it was a summer-school psych 101 class, and this multiple-choice test was not difficult. I am not saying that she was unintelligent, I’ll let you make the call, but not everyone is meant to go to college. An undergraduate degree is already worth very little, unless you get your degree in accounting or teaching. If everyone is guaranteed a college degree: A. a college degree will mean nothing and B. the only beneficiary will be the university’s banker.
*****I do, however, believe in scholarships and I believe that people should donate to them as they can, to give something back to their community. It’s when people start assuming that “everyone” has a “right” to go to college…then we have to continue dumbing the classes down.
*****I just graduated a few years ago after a 30+-year hiatus, I’m 54, and believe me…the classes are already dumbed down enough.



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Al Eastman

posted July 7, 2007 at 6:42 pm


Posted by: Scott R. | July 6, 2007 6:20 PM
“And it was liberals that helped free the black people from segregation. It was Republican conservatives that battled to keep them in chains.”
Scott, I must take exception to your above post. Like today, the vast majority of college students were Liberal Democrats when they helped with black voter registration drives in the mid-20th century. However, Democrats have historically been against equal rights. Please take the time to read “WAYNE PERRYMAN on behalf of himself and AFRICAN AMERICAN CITIZENS of the UNITED STATES Plaintiff, vs DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE and the NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC PARTY Defendants”. It is a litany of abuses by the Party of Jefferson against Blacks. [URL http://72.14.253.104/search?q=cache:R6pvvaYN8ksJ:www.thedrewshow.com/reparations/
CivilSuitForReparations.doc+%22No+CV04+2442%22&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=7&gl=us&lr=
lang_en] It was only with Republican votes that the Southern DEMOCRAT’S efforts to block the 1957 Civil Rights Act were defeated.
Also, I must remind you of the 39th Congress that passed the Civil Rights act of 1866. A congress that was composed of 54 senators (39 were Republicans) and 193 Representatives (136 were Republicans). President Andrew Johnson (a Democrat) vetoed the bill, saying that blacks were not qualified for United States citizenship and that the bill would “operate in favor of the colored and against the white race.” The Republicans in congress overrode the presidential veto on April 9, 1866. The act declared that all persons born in the United States were citizens, without regard to race, color, or previous condition…
I urge you to post facts, not opinion, unless labeled as such.



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kevin

posted July 7, 2007 at 10:15 pm


with conviction, i disagree with things like affirmative action, etc. for one thing, it doesn’t help black people – it cripples them. it is saying, “you don’t have the power to do this, so it will be handed to you”. truth is, they have every opportunity in the world. slavery days are over. can i get a scholarship for being white? no, regardless of wether or not i am irish, british, russian, german, etc. no. everyone else can for some odd reason.
i am not saying not to help anyone, or that people don’t need help. it depends on the person, and are they actually going to use your help to it’s potential. i told my old roommate i would help him get his G.E.D. and it would help him get a better job – but he was happy with conning me into paying all the bills every month while he acted oppressed. now he quit his job and lives in the streets again. apparently he didn’t want help.



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linoscript

posted July 7, 2007 at 10:26 pm


To believe everyone has the right to go to college doesn’t mean everyone must go to college, or that college is the best choice for everyone – and unfortunately there is a lot of class snobbery over just that issue. Are you less of a person if you are not educated? But I think it would be beneficial to society if everyone could go to if they wanted to. Higher education used to translate to higher income – equal access to education was supposed to level the playing field. All I know is my great-aunt worked to support her family as a seamstress until finally, at the age of 84, she finally achieved her life-long dream of going to school – and graduated at the top of her class, twice (she got a master’s before she gave up on school.) I hate to think of other people like her, denied the opportunity to reach their full potential because of lack of money.



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linoscript

posted July 7, 2007 at 10:45 pm

linoscript

posted July 7, 2007 at 10:52 pm


Never mind that: here is what I was looking for. The Tim Wise essay entitled, “A Particularly Cheap White Whine: Racism, Scholarships and the Manufacturing of White Victimhood.”
http://www.timwise.org/



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linoscript

posted July 7, 2007 at 11:02 pm


Or this one: “The Mother of All Racial Preferences: Reflections on Affirmative Action for White Folks,” by Tim Wise. White racial preference explains why white families, on average, have a net worth eleven times that of black families: a gap that remains substantial even when only comparing families of like size, composition, education and income status; and it also helps explain, at least in part, why a full-time black male worker in 2003 made less in real dollar terms than similar white men were earning in 1967. Such realities do not merely indicate the disadvantages faced by blacks, but indeed are evidence of the preferences afforded whites: the necessary flipside of discrimination.



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Scott R.

posted July 7, 2007 at 11:18 pm


Al,
I’m going back to the 1960’s. You’re going back to the 19th century.
The Republicans haven’t done a thing for the common man since Reconstruction.



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Dave

posted July 8, 2007 at 10:27 am


1/ Jews do have above average incomes and tend to vote left-of center. This doesn’t mean there are no poor Jews and no Jewish Republicans. Too many stats prove this. Regression to the mean may cause a change in these facts over time.
2/ The Republicans did prevent Dhimmi Carter from being reelcted and ended his double-digit interest rates/inflation and high unemployment.



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Al Eastman

posted July 8, 2007 at 3:08 pm


Scott, you must have, missed this part of my post: “It was only with Republican votes that the Southern DEMOCRAT’S efforts to block the 1957 Civil Rights Act were defeated.”
Seriously, do a bit of research on LBJ and JFK with respect to their positions with respect to Civil Rights. Also, look into Ike’s positions during the same time period. My point is, NEITHER party’s skirts were all that clean. For you to claim the Democratic Party had/has the Civil rights “high ground” is, in my opinion, false.



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April

posted July 8, 2007 at 6:12 pm


I usually do not have comments but, I need to say that for Jews Money and the military. You need to do some research because there are actually more “white” people in the military than any other race. The majority are from small midwestern towns. You need to include all the services: Army,Air Force, Navy and the Marines, we also can’t forget the Coast Guard. Once you do you will find that your theory will be misproven.



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Julie

posted July 8, 2007 at 10:55 pm


Not one US Congressman has a child or grandchild in the US Military. Enough said?



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yona loriner

posted July 9, 2007 at 10:58 am


jews who do well financialy worked hard for thier money. are they smarter than other people? or blessed? i dont know but alot of nonjews do well to why should jews be hated anyone who makes money good for him . by the way i know plenty of poor jews should we hate them too? its rediculous.



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walter gorton

posted August 1, 2007 at 6:39 pm


This is a sincere question. How many Jewish men or women have volunteered to fight on the ground in Iraq, given that the real war is being fought over Israel’s existence and the rabid attempts to destroy her by fundamentalist interests? I for one support Israel’s right to exist peacefully and without fear for her existence, but have misgivings regarding the direction which fundamentalist Jews are taking in the settlements in Gaza. I myself was raised Baptist and was mentored by my Jewish bosses and friends as I grew up, giving me a perhaps greater insight than some. If Jewish young people are not enlisting to help create a middle east safer for Israel. Why not?
Thanks for listening and mozel tov.



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JOHN CALLAHAN

posted October 11, 2007 at 11:19 pm


I think that the Jews don’t enlist because they tend to be physical
cowards who are disloyal to the United States. Back in 1971 4 Jews
from Boston University played a little trick on me. They had heard
that I had recently returned from Vietnam so while the 3 males sat at
the bar facing away from me, their female accomplice approached and
asked me “so how many babies did you kill?” The Jews did it this way
because they figured that the vet wouldn’t hit the female and in this
case they were right.



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JOHN CALLAHAN

posted October 12, 2007 at 7:08 pm


During basic training in 1969 we were told that the core function of
the army was to kill and take land. I feel like some of you think that
the reason to join the military is for upward mobility, money or job
training. If a person is interested in these things, there are easier
ways to do it. Most people do one tour in the service in order to help
protect our nation and then get out.



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Jerry McClusky

posted October 16, 2007 at 11:21 pm


I am unsure where you cite your facts about “a lot of individuals in your congregation served in the military”. What are the names of those congregations? I would like to make the following points concerning Jews in the US Military. I served for 3 years in the US ARMY. (not the Israeli army as most American Jews serve in). I never met one Jew in all 3 years of active duty. My time was 1992-1994. Second point, The Jewish war veterans organization will be extinct within 10 years. Why? Because 99.9% of them fought in WW2. Another sidepointis that they specifically served in Europe since only the Nazis killed Jews not the Japanese. Third point, I live in NJ all my life and now MANY American Jews that served in the army….well…uhh..the Israeli one that is. In fact Michael Chertoff our homeland security director is an Israeli citizen. He has no law enforcement or military service. He was however the Distrcit Attorney for many years in NY and NJ. So I sleep better at night. Funny even now in Iraq and Afganistan Israel did not allow US planes to us Israeli airspace. And yet in 1990 we took out scud missiles from hitting Jerusaleam. We even invaded Kuwait to protect Israel. I side with Mr Callahan entirely!



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JOHN CALLAHAN

posted October 26, 2007 at 9:03 pm


Thanks for your support Jerry. The thing that drives me craziest about
the jews is the fact that they love to talk about how they don’t even know anyone in the military. They seem to be take pride in that fact. They complain on the internet that if they went into the army they wouldn’t get kosher food or that they might be exposed to an evangelical christian (horror!). I think they need to consider eating the same crappy food and drinking the same lousy coffee as everyone else. If they can’t deal with evangelicals……. I guess that moslems
would be out of the question. The thing that jews fear the most is the
guy in the next bunk during basic training. They are afraid that the
Irish, Polish, Puerto Rican, TexMex, Italian or Black guy might bitch
slap them to death. They fear their fellow americans!



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JOHN CALLAHAN

posted October 26, 2007 at 9:05 pm


Rabbi Susan you say your attitude changed. Changed from what?



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aturomartinez

posted April 10, 2008 at 5:34 pm


I was in Vietnam for 2 tours of duty in the Army.In that time I only met one jew!!!
Please let me know how many jews served in Vietnam what percentage.
I know that of the 59,000 KIA in Vietnam 12,000 were Hispanic!
4th Infantry Division Pleiku,Vietnam!!!!



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Cynthia C

posted January 26, 2012 at 4:21 pm


From what I understand, at least 75% of the U.S. military is specifically evangelical Christian. This is not a good: in violation of the Bill of Rights, some on the religious right want to make this a nation that favors Christianity. Undoubtedly, they make up some number of the evangalicals in the military.

Our freedoms depend upon the military revering the U.S. Constitution in general, and the 1st amendment in particular. If people of other beliefs are not well represented in our military forces, those of the religious right will have too much influence. Moreover, they may give way to resentment that evangelical Christians are willing to fight and die for their country, but secularists and people of other faiths are not.

Thank God for Norton Schwartz, a Jewish general who was recently made Air Force chief of staff. We need more Jews, more Muslims, more liberal Christians, and more aathiests serving in the military. Leaving the military to evangelical Christians is pure folly.



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