Windows and Doors

Windows and Doors


The Biggest Jewish Story of 2010

posted by Brad Hirschfield

As I wrote about yesterday, I would not necessarily agree with the religion writers of America who have declared that Park 51, also known as the Ground Zero Mosque, was the biggest religion story of the year. But having been so declared, it’s hard to ignore ? especially given that this story certainly got the attention of lots of Jews from across the ideological and theological spectrum. And yet, I can’t escape the idea that neither the building nor the story of it, are themselves such a big deal.
Not only is it not built, it’s not even under construction and there is significant disagreement even among those who support its construction, including, according to Gallop, within the American Muslim community, about what exactly it is that should be built and where. But while the building itself is not a big deal, the feelings which this debate evoked certainly are.
In fact, Park 51 is certainly the biggest Rorschach test of 2010, one which speaks volumes about where Jews are and what’s really on our minds. It reminds me of the old joke about a man who visited a psychiatrist. Trying to get a handle on the patient, the doctor took out his ink blots and with each succeeding picture the patient described the image as one of two people making love. Finally, the doctor remarked to the man that he was unduly fixated on sex. “Me?” said the man, “You’re the one showing me the dirty pictures!” That’s how it is with Park 51 and the Jewish community.


Jews were at the forefront of both the opposition to and among the supporters of the project, reminding us that as is often the case, taking the lead is itself a Jewish thing to do ? and so is maintaining a diversity of opinion. There is no such thing as the one authentically Jewish position on most public policy matters and pretending otherwise is futile, foolish and arrogant. Translating that lesson from 2010 into the rest of Jewish life in 2011 would be huge.
The story of the “Ground Zero Mosque” also demonstrated how much unresolved fear and unspoken anger permeates both our nation in general and the Jewish community in particular. This story took off, in part, because it became the release mechanism for collective feelings that have been largely held in check for almost 10 years.
Divided between a small number of highly vocal Jewish organizations spreading fear and rage about Islam as being “fundamentally violent and hateful”, and a majority which wanted to prove that we could all get along, there was little work done at the ragged edges where difficult conversations which acknowledged both how wounded and angry Jews were, and the real challenges in our relationships with American Muslims. We spent time either spreading calumny or singing Kum-Ba-Yah, and need to get past the need for both as the dominant mode of relating to Muslims and Islam.
In fact, we need to get past that in terms of how we relate to different kinds of people in general, including Christians and also different kinds of Jews. Clearly, the top story in that regard was the Clinton-Mezvinsky wedding, but not because of the celebrity of the bride and groom. The real story with the wedding is not who got married but, as in the story of the struggles around Park 51, what we can learn about ourselves and our community from it.
The truth is, whether all of us like it or not, whether we deem it “good for the Jews” or not, couples like Chelsea and Mark are proudly and simultaneously celebrating both faith traditions from which they come. Purists on both sides are nervous, to say the least. Some will immediately declare this to be a “dangerous syncretism” which undermines the integrity and authenticity of both traditions. Are they correct? I don’t think so, even though such blending is not for me.
The real upshot of the coverage of the most covered wedding of the year is the normalcy not only of Jews, but of Jewish religious practice, in America. Not only are Jews at home in America, but so is Judaism even in the form of an Aramaic Ketubah and blessings in Hebrew. Having achieved that level of acceptance, how the tradition is understood must shift.
This is not a plea for increased liberalization or for people to change their current position on inter-marriage. This is about shifting our sense of Judaism as something in need of protection and preservation, to one which appreciates it as resource for living better and happier lives – a resource which must figure out how to be both deeply Jewish even as it is accessed and used by people who may, or may not, be Jewish.
Like the story of Park 51, the story of the Clinton-Mezvinsky wedding is not about a particular event, but about the opportunity lost when we are driven by fear of what might be instead of by the possibility of what we might create. But each is also a cautionary tale about the necessity of articulating our fears without feeling that we will be attacked for having done so.
Questions about Islam or the capacity of the Muslim community to critique and control itself are not always Islamophobic. Concern about intermarriage and the implications of increasing popularity are not necessarily ethnocentric. And the challenges to our understanding of Jewish community and peoplehood which flow from being fully integrated into the cultural, spiritual and political world of contemporary America are real.
We live in a world where there are things to be afraid of, no doubt. And fears demand attention even if we do not all agree about what constitutes something we ought to fear, if for no other reason than knowing that people are not talked out of their fears simply because we label those fears as unfounded.
Fears are actually a vital part of the alert system used by any biological entity, individual or collective. But while fear is an essential component to staying safe, it is hardly ever the best mindset about how create safety over the long haul, and certainly not the mind-set which creates the next levels of success in either personal or communal life.
The biggest story of 2010, for “the Jews” may well have been Park 51/Ground Zero Mosque. And if it turns out that way, it will be because it will have taught us the importance of recognizing fears without being dominated by them, and the necessity of spending more time, money, and energy not on resisting what we fear, but on contributing to the New York and to the Jewish people of which we most deeply want to be a part.



Advertisement
Comments read comments(16)
post a comment
nnmns

posted December 31, 2010 at 7:56 pm


“Questions about Islam or the capacity of the Muslim community to critique and control itself are not always Islamophobic. Concern about intermarriage and the implications of increasing popularity are not necessarily ethnocentric.”
And of course the politically incorrect act of pointing out Israel’s ongoing war crimes and land thefts, which power the understandable Muslim outrage and unacceptable terrorist acts is not anti-Semitism.
The biggest Jewish-related story that doesn’t get told is the outrages Israel commits and the Christian superstition and Israeli lobby political power which allows it to continue.



report abuse
 

Gil

posted January 1, 2011 at 12:31 pm


NNMNS- IF YOU ARE SO COCK SURE OF YOUR STATEMENTS – AND THAT PALESTINE, THE COUNTRY GOES BACK THROUGH MOST OF RECORDED HISTORY, I EXPECT YOU TO BE ABLE TO ANSWER A FEW BASIC QUESTIONS ABOUT THAT COUNTRY OF PALESTINE : 1. WHEN WAS IT FOUNDED AND BY WHOM? 2. WHAT WERE ITS BORDERS? 3. WHAT WAS ITS CAPITAL? 4. WHAT WERE ITS MAJOR CITIES? 5. WHAT CONSTITUTED THE BASIS OF ITS ECONOMY? 7. CAN YOU NAME AT LEAST ONE PALESTINIAN LEADER BEFORE ARAFAT? 8. WAS PALESTINE EVER RECOGNIZED BY A COUNTRY WHOSE EXISTENCE, AT THAT TIME OR NOW, LEAVES NO ROOM FOR INTERPRETATION? 9. WHAT WAS THE LANGUAGE OF THE COUNTRY OF PALESTINE? 10. WHAT WAS THE PREVALENT RELIGION OF THE COUNTRY OF PALESTINE? 11. WHAT WAS THE NAME OF ITS CURRENCY? CHOSE ANY DATE IN HISTORY AND TELL WHAT THE APPROXIMATE EXCHANGE RATE OF THE PALESTINIAN MONETARY UNIT AGAINST THE US DOLLAR, GERMAN MARK, JAPANESE YEN OR CHINESE YUAN ON THAT DATE? 12. AND, FINALLY, SINCE THERE IS NO SUCH COUNTRY TODAY, WHAT CAUSED ITS DEMISE AND WHEN DID THAT OCCUR? YOU ARE LAMENTING THE “LOW SINKING” OF A “ONCE PROUD” NATION. TELL US WHEN EXACTLY WAS THAT “NATION” PROUD, AND WHAT IS IT SO PROUD OF? IF THE PEOPLE YOU MISTAKENLY CALL “PALESTINIANS” ARE ANYTHING BUT GENERIC ARABS COLLECTED FROM ALL OVER – OR THROWN OUT OF THE ARAB WORLD, IF THEY REALLY HAVE A GENUINE ETHNIC IDENITY THAT GIVES THEM THE RIGHT FOR SELF-DETERMINATION, WHY DID THEY NEVER TRY TO BECOME INDEPENDRENT UNTIL ARABS SUFFERED THEIR DEVASTATING DEFEAT IN THE SIX DAY WAR? I HOPE YOU AVOID THE TEMPTATION TO TRACE THE MODERN DAY “PALESTINIANS” TO THE BIBLICAL PHILISTINES : SUBSTITUTING ETYMOLOGY FOR HISTORY WON’T WORK HERE. THE TRUTH SHOULD BE OBVIOUS TO EVERYONE WHO WANTS TO KNOW IT. ARAB COUNTRIES HAVE NEVER ABANDONED THE DREAM OF DESTROYING ISRAEL; THEY STILL CHERISH IT TODAY. HAVING TIME AND AGAIN FAILED TO ACHIEVE THEIR EVIL GOAL WITH MILITARY MEANS, THEY DECIDED TO FIGHT ISRAEL BY PROXY. FOR THAT PURPOSE , THEY CREATED A TERRORIST ORGANIZATION, CYNICALLY CALLED IT THE “PALESTINIAN PEOPLE” AND INSTALLED IT IN GAZA, JUDEA, AND SAMARIA. HOW ELSE CAN YOU EXPLAIN THE REFUSAL BY JORDAN AND EGYPT TO UNCONDITIONALLY ACCEPT BACK THE “WEST BANK AND GAZA, RESPECTIVELY? THE FACT IS, ARABS POPULATING GAZA, JUDEA, AND SAMARIA HAVE MUCH LESS CLAIM TO NATIONHOOD THAN THAT INDIAN TRIBE THAT SUCCESSFULLY EMERGED IN CONNECTICUT WITH THE PURPOSE OF STARTING A TAX-EXEMPT CASINO: AT LEAST THAT TRIBE HAD A CONSTRUCTIVE GOAL THAT MOTIVATED THEM. THE SO-CALLED “PALESTINIANS” HAVE ONLY ONE MOTIVATION: THE DESTRUCTION OF ISRAEL , AND IN MY BOOK THAT IS NOT SUFFICIENT TO CONSIDER THEM A NATION – OR ANYTHING ELSE EXCEPT WHAT THEY ARE: A TERRORIST ORGANIZATION THAT WILL ONE DAY BE DISMANTLED. AS AN ADDENDUM -MUSLIM FACTIONS HAVE BEEN KILLING ONE ANOTHER SINCE THE 8TH CENTURY – ATTACKING AND KILLING CHRISTIANS, INVADING CHRISTIAN EUROPE, ALL WITHOUT THE EXCUSE “THE JEWS OR ISRAEL PROVOKED US TO DO IT.”



report abuse
 

nnmns

posted January 1, 2011 at 1:08 pm


Gil you seem to have me confused with someone else.
I’m talking about Israeli land thefts and war crimes. Those acts are heinous no matter whom they are committed against. It’s more cowardly when the people involved have no means to defend themselves except to throw themselves on the mercy of world opinion, which the US has been able to overcome, or for the more excited among them to resort to terrorism.
I think it would be useful for Americans to consider what we’d do if we were a small, weak people and Canadians were strong and well armed, supplied let’s say by China. And they systematically tore down Americans’ homes and built homes for Canadians on what was left of our land and fenced parts of it off with roads we couldn’t touch and walls. Some of us would react much like some of the Palestinians and would probably be called Homeland Defenders.



report abuse
 

Gil

posted January 1, 2011 at 3:08 pm


NNMNS – YOU DO NOT KNOW THE HISTORY OF ISRAEL – THE BORDERS HAVE BEEN DIVIDED UP MANY TIMES IN HISTORY. THE LAST INTERNATIONAL TRIBUNAL – THE UNITED NATIONS DEFINED THE BORDERS IN 1948 – SEPARATING JEWISH AND ARAB PARAMETERS. THIS WAS NOT SUFFICIENT FOR THE ARAB LEAGUE, AND THEY INSTITUTED SIX WARS VS ISRAEL, IN WHICH THE ARABS LOST. THE JEWS OCCUPY ONE – FIFTEENTH OF ONE PERCENT OF THE MIDDLE EAST. JEWS HAVE BEEN UPROOTED FROM MOST ARAB LANDS WHERE THEY LOST THEIR HOMES AND POSSESSIONS. YOUR ILK WILL ACCUSE JEWS NO MATTER WHAT, WITHOUT CONSIDERING YOUR OWN IRRATIONAL PREJUDICE. YOU MAY LIVE IN THE U.S. BUT THAT DOES NOT GIVE YOU THE RIGHT TO UNOFFICIALLY DECLARE YOUR COMMUNITY A NATION, AND FIRE MISSILES INTO OTHER PEOPLES’ HOMES. I HAVE NOT “MISTAKEN YOU FOR SOMEONE ELSE.” YOUR ANTI-JEW RHETORIC REEKS TO HIGH HEAVEN. YOUR OBFUSCATIONS, CONFUSED DIATRIBE, AND ILLITERATE AND UNKNOWLEDGEABLE ACCUSATIONS STEMS FROM SHEER HATRED OF A RECOGNIZED GROUP WHO WISHED TO LIVE IN PEACE, AND STILL DOES. WHEN PEOPLE TAKE UP ARMS VS YOU – YOU HAVE THE GOD GIVEN RIGHT TO DEFEND YOURSELF. ITS INTERESTING THAT YOU HAVEN’T TAKEN UP THE CAUSE OF 64 DIFFERENT WARS GOING ON AT THIS VERY MOMENT – OF THE COUNTLESS MILLIONS OF PEOPLE BEING WANTONLY KILLED BY BOTH MUSLIM AND CHRISTIAN NATIONS AROUND THE WORLD. CONSULT YOUR WORLD TIME-LINE OF WARS AND ILLEGAL LAND GRABS – TELL ME WHICH GROUPS ARE INNOCENT OF THESE ATTROCITIES. WHICH INDIAN TRIBAL LAND IS YOUR HOME BUILT ON?



report abuse
 

nnmns

posted January 1, 2011 at 3:31 pm


Gil I recommend medication. A doctor can help you get your mania (perhaps) and your blood pressure (surely) back in hand.
I wish you better health.



report abuse
 

romanscapegoat

posted January 1, 2011 at 3:52 pm


gil…your no even a true jew…your not an orthodox jew… your a generic jew…a fake jew…shunned jew…you are the worst kind of jew there is…A POOR JEW



report abuse
 

romanscapegoat

posted January 1, 2011 at 4:01 pm


America owns Israel…without America there would be no palestine land occupied by America, who allows Jews to govern…American government know the Jews walk with the space aliens…the Jews will claim their messiah has come…the leader of the aliens, who is Lucifer…the jews will claim Lucifer their messiah…



report abuse
 

European

posted January 1, 2011 at 5:04 pm


GIL…,THOUGH NOT WORTH MY BREATH…
AT LEAST THAT TRIBE HAD A CONSTRUCTIVE GOAL THAT MOTIVATED THEM. THE SO-CALLED “PALESTINIANS” HAVE ONLY ONE MOTIVATION: THE DESTRUCTION OF ISRAEL , AND IN MY BOOK THAT IS NOT SUFFICIENT TO CONSIDER THEM A NATION – OR ANYTHING ELSE EXCEPT WHAT THEY ARE: A TERRORIST ORGANIZATION THAT WILL ONE DAY BE DISMANTLED. AS AN ADDENDUM…
I SAW THIS POST BY A JEWESS, AND I THOUGHT OF THE OT/TORAH TALES OF HOLOCAUST/GENILE NATIONS GENOCIDE’S, AND YOU TALK ABOUT CONSTRUCTIVE GOALS, OH, OFCOURSE YOU DID NOT DO IT… GOD DID IT. PERHAPS HITLER DID NOT DO IT EITHER, PERHAPS HE WAS AN INSTRUMENT OF YOUR GOD WHO HAS ALOT OF EXPERIENCE IN GENOCIDE? YOU CREATE HATRED, YOUR MOTIVATER FOR SURVIVAL, IT ENERGIZES YOUR TRIBE. IT IS ALWAYS AND ONLY ABOUT THE JEWISH TRIBE in your dealings with others. MODERN TALES AS WELL, CLINTON WEDDING OR THE MOSQUE. NOT MUCH HONESTY. TRUST ME, YOU WILL BE FOUND OUT BY MANY, AND IT WON’T LOOK VERY PRETTY FOR YOU. INTERMARRIAGE MAY BE YOUR ONLY CHANCE, AND BUDDY-ING UP WITH WHOM EVER, WITH INSINCERITY ofcourse… a sense I got out of the RABBI’S ARTICLE.
A JEWISH STATEMENT, and we all KNOW she is not the only one.
BY ANNE
o anne
December 13, 2010 – 9:57 pm | Permalink
Not so much ‘superiority’ as “chosen-ness.” There is one God, and that God has a relationship with them (chose them to have a relationship) and NO OTHERS. They are the only ones who have any god at all. No other god is real. And the only real god chose only them to talk to. More people should take two weeks, and every single day, read the Torah. (Lots of people go on about the Talmud, but just read the Torah.) Read it long enough to begin to get a feel for it—and consider that Christianity does not exist. Read this book as if IT NEVER EVER EXISTED. (nor islam) Like learning another language. Christianity does not exist for them. Never existed. And there is only this account of your own racial people, the one the only god chose, and the others have no god. There has never been any incarnate god who dies and gets back up, ever.
The Talmud is more like damage control, imo. After the destruction of the temple, it’s about how to survive in exile. how to make rules that will disallow others to break them up as a group, and so on. It’s a survival manuel, in a way. Vilification and social in-group cohesion. But the Torah is less defensive, per se, more an expression of an internal way of being. The god gives the ‘land,’ and they are to take it, smash all the others’ gods, ways of life of people, leave no remnant of the living people and so on.
The ethical perspective was transcended by many thought movements since, but it’s an older system that survived. In a way, Judeo-Christianity should be like saying Loki-Christianity. or Sun-Christianity or Saturn-Christianity, or whatever. –a conflation of incompatible ethics.
THAT IS WHY CHRISTIANITY EXISTS….TO COUNTER YOUR HATE FILLED RELIGION AGAINST GENTILES.



report abuse
 

nnmns

posted January 1, 2011 at 10:01 pm


Wow Brad, does it get like this often here?



report abuse
 

mr. goody two shoes

posted January 2, 2011 at 12:15 am


nnmns, you started it, learn from your hatred.



report abuse
 

ekares

posted January 2, 2011 at 1:37 am


nnmns – I noticed your answer to Gil was a silly statement about his alledged need for medication. This is a usual tactic by those who can’t reply to facts when presented as precisely as Gil did. Overwhelmed you with historical facts and accuracy did he? Romanscapegoat, please go back to your cesspool – no one really cares for your thoughts except when looking for examples of insanity on the loose.



report abuse
 

nnmns

posted January 2, 2011 at 7:08 am


So commenting on Israel’s ongoing theft of land and war crimes is hatred? When truth is labelled as hatred intelligent conversation and policy consideration becomes impossible. Or is that your goal?
If Americans could objectively assess our relationship to Israel we’d see Israel as a parasite on us. Obviously that must be prevented or the multi-billion dollar a year pipeline would be cut off and the availability of our Security Council cover for its war crimes would stop. Then Israel would have to deal with its neighbors like a normal country.
So accusations of hatred become SOP.



report abuse
 

romanscapegoat

posted January 2, 2011 at 9:04 am


here is another example of how the jewish owned media spreads the jewish owned republican agenda…yesterday the nightly news not fox news, the nightly news, uses scare tactics to program the ignorant viewers to support letting the jew owned banks take control of Medicaid…there are only 6 major banks that control America and yes these banks are jew owned… the jew owned media reports, the baby boomers are over running the health care system and there’s not enough doctors and there’s not enough money and medicaid is bankrupt and somebody needs to do some thing soon…and then every time the jewish owned media reports about Obama or democrats its always negative…all democratic presidents of the past have always became slaves to the jew owned banks and corporations…Obama is the first president, besides Kennedy who was killed by the jews, that tried to regulated the jew owned banks and corporations to protect the 98% of not rich Americans from the jew greed…the jews decide what news is…the American media is all jew propaganda for the jew agenda…which is maximum profit…GOD BLESS AMERICA!!!



report abuse
 

romanscapegoat

posted January 2, 2011 at 4:59 pm


ekares is really gil making up a name to defend his ignorance, pathetic tactics of a pathetic jew…



report abuse
 

European

posted January 2, 2011 at 6:11 pm


This is a good one: By Israel Shahak’s book “Jewish Fundementalism in Israel
In discussion the terms “murder, massare or killing” are avoided by Jews killing Arabs, instead the terms used were “deed, event or occurence”. The reason is that according to the Halacha the killing by a Jew of a non-Jew under any cirumstances is not regarded as murder. (re: goldstein killing of 29 Arabs) When asked by Barnea whether he felt sorry, Levinger answered: ” I am sorry not only about dead Arabs but also about dead flies.” Goldstein on principle had refused to treat non-Jews for many years before the massacre.
A must read Book for all who care to understand what being Jewish is and means. I think people were finding out the underlying principles about Judaism in Europe around the turn of the century. I now understand the German saying, which I never did before. “Judaism ist ein Verbrechen”= Judaism is a Crime (my understanding is also against Humanity, that is to be treating or thinking of Gentiles in this fashion. I quess it is the monster God of the OT personified.)



report abuse
 

T. Alexander

posted January 4, 2011 at 6:08 am


I needed to respond to this story if just to try and figure out the point of this Rabbi. I was born in Brooklyn not to much after the famous Billys arrived on the scene. My Grandparents were very young when they escaped from Russia, one from Minsk and the other I’am sorry to say I cannot think of at this moment. My time I spent in Brooklyn was seasonal because my parents moved to a small town in NJ,which they thought of as a lot safer. From what I was not sure.We moved into a neighborhood that was a melting pot except for the blacks,as they were called in my day.My Grandma was Orthodox so I spent most of my childhood standing in church.In the neighborhood I grew up in there were Jews, some nice and some not so nice.My older brothers and I were taught that any race or religion was welcomed in our back yard any time.That is where the basketball court was.Later on in life I would come to understand why we were the only family on the block that had Jewish boys playing basketball in our yard.My father left my mother at home with two young boys to fight in WW11.He was one of the young soldiers that had come across Dachau concentration camp,and was one of its liberators. I’am glad that he did not live to see ground zero, as he died in March of that year.I wonder Rabbi what he would think about your idea in your note.Pot stirrers was exactly what we were taught back in our youth to avoid in OUR neighborhood,how about yours?



report abuse
 

Post a Comment

By submitting these comments, I agree to the beliefnet.com terms of service, rules of conduct and privacy policy (the "agreements"). I understand and agree that any content I post is licensed to beliefnet.com and may be used by beliefnet.com in accordance with the agreements.



Previous Posts

More blogs to enjoy!
Thank you for visiting Windows and Doors. This blog is no longer being updated. Please enjoy the archives. Here are some other blogs you may also enjoy: Truths You Can Use Most Recent Inspiration blog post Happy Reading!  

posted 1:28:03pm Aug. 02, 2012 | read full post »

Apple's "Jew or Not Jew" App -- Should It Be Legal?
An Apple application that let users guess which French politicians or celebrities are Jewish was pulled from France's App Store. but its American equivalent is still available. French activist groups said the "Jew or Not Jew?" app violated bans on compiling information on people's religion and rev

posted 1:18:48am Sep. 18, 2011 | read full post »

Is God A Christian?
R. Kirby Godsey’s new book, Is God A Christian?, challenges what the author describes as the commonly held belief among many religious people that the God in whom they believe is “one of them”.  People, Mr. Kirby observes, too often confuse God’s religious identity with their own, leading t

posted 11:59:56am Sep. 12, 2011 | read full post »

Remembering 9/11 - Part One
The tenth anniversary of 9/11 brings up many emotions and presents some very real challenges, among them how to remember the past without being imprisoned by it.  This video, filmed at St. Paul's, the church closest to the World Trade Center site, is a wonderful example of rising to that challen

posted 2:40:58pm Sep. 08, 2011 | read full post »

Gilad Shalit, Still A Prisoner After 1,900 Days
Below is a copy of the Statement I got from the White House, and while I appreciate the words, I can't help but also ask, "Is this the best we can do?"  United States Mission to the United Nations Office of Press and Public Diplomacy 799 United Nations Plaza New York, NY 10017 (212) 41

posted 9:04:17am Sep. 08, 2011 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.