Monthly Archives: February 2014

I’m Jewish. I must be cheap.

1379505_10201629847641956_1291770149_nAs a proud Jew and son of Holocaust survivors, I always have my radar on for blatant or subtle anti-Semitism.  As an individual I try not to take myself too seriously, but as people who know me will verify, I am not always successful.  When these two factors meet, I sometimes find myself in a quandary.   How do I react to anti-Semitic remarks without falling into the trap of being too self-important and how do I distinguish between innocent, albeit misguided perception and unabashed bigotry?  Case in point, the “cheapness of Jews”.

If the comments were rare there would be nothing to speak about.  However, somehow the Jewish people have gotten the reputation of being significantly cheaper than other ethnic groups.  Partially because I don’t feel like doing the detailed research, but more importantly because I don’t think it matters at this point, I am not going to address the origins or accuracy of the perception.  What I will say is that for many people, even those who have never witnessed a Jew being cheap on a major scale, the statement, “Don’t be a Jew”, or “I Jewed him down” is what they would just refer to as a figure of speech.  However, it is unquestionably a racial slur.  The show Sponge Bob Square Pants has a character, Sponge Bob’s boss, whose whole character revolves around how cheap he is, and he is portrayed as Irish, not Jewish, because a cheap Irishman is not a stereotype per se.

Be that as it may, I find myself increasingly uncomfortable when hearing these comments and somewhat at my wits end.  To understand why I have no clue on how to address it, other than maybe moving to Israel and only living amongst Jews, here are three examples of what I, a very Americanized and modern Jewish man has had to listen to.

The first case is an African American friend of mine, and I call him a friend because his actions toward me have been helpful and seemingly genuine, when talking about a business deal he is in the process of making, consistently will make the comment, “I tried to charge him a certain amount of money but he kept Jewing me down.”  The irony is that this man is someone who generally lives by a high ethical standard and knowing I am positively Jewish and the son of Holocaust survivors, always seems to show and appreciation and respect for my background, except when making a comment that would get a news reporter fired due to its racially offensive overtone. 

The second case was when spending time with a friend who was somewhat intoxicated, he referred to a black co-worker who did a favor for him, and then charged him more than he originally agreed to, as a “Black Jew”.  In the course of his semi-drunken rant it was abundantly clear that he threw in the word “Jew” because he was calling the other man cheap and that it was unquestionably an attack on his behavior.  However, whenever discussing anything about my heritage with me, he’s been nothing but respectful.

The third case was a woman I dated.  Being someone who is frugal with her money, and not Jewish, I guess she felt she was bonding with me when she said, “I’m cheap.  I could be Jewish.”  And yet, she was someone who I witnessed showing respect to Jewish people and always seemed to show respect for who I was and where I came from.  Nevertheless, when the statement was made, due to the compounding discomfort I have from all of the people who refer to Jews as cheap, I was at a loss for how to react, and subsequently sat silently without reaction.

Some of you reading this may say that I just need to make better choices on who I spend my time with.  You may be right.  However, I am not only exposed to these statements in private environments, but in more public forums as well.  I am sure that many of you reading this have experienced the same thing that I have and find it as hard to handle as I do.  Part of what makes it so difficult to deal with is the fact that the people saying these things are often not anti-Semites, they are just unaware of the discomfort the comments cause myself and others like me.  The problem is that I hear it so often that a degree of fatigue has settled in that has resulted in me often remaining silent, especially when the comments are made by people I know as not being anti-Semites.

 

 

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Remembering Harold Ramis

Click to see this great video of the late Harold Ramis discussing the metaphor of Ground Hog Day.

“I’m not comparing Groundhog Day to the Torah.  It’s more entertaining than the Torah.”

~Harold Ramis~


How Taking Jerusalem from the Jewish people compares to the actions of the Nazis

nazhouDespite the fact that I am not blind to the realities that exist, I am always reluctant to compare any individual or group to Hitler and Nazi Germany.  The murder and destruction the Jewish people dealt with during that time was beyond any reasonable comprehension.  Sadly today I come to the realization that there are steps in place to try to duplicate a particular activity by the Nazi party perpetuated against the Jews of Europe.

Yesterday in speaking with two family members who just returned from a trip to Israel, I heard about what a cosmopolitan and beautiful city Jerusalem has become.  When I lived there for 3 ½ years in the early 80’s, the city was already one filled with exciting diversity, beauty, and opportunities for enjoyment at every turn.  I am told that today what I remember was nothing compared to how amazing the city has become.  It still has that wonderful mix of religion and modernity one needs to experience to understand, and has become so developed that it now feels like a worldly metropolis.  It has become a beautiful home for the Jewish people.

In 1930’s Europe there were many beautiful homes for Jewish people.  Homes decorated with the most beautiful furniture, silver and gold jewels, and artwork at its best.  These were homes that Jewish people worked for, built for themselves and for their children’s future, and believed, as any normal person would, that they would own and hold onto for generations to come. 

The Nazis had different plans.  When the Jewish neighborhoods were ransacked and decimated, the end result being that families were at best displaced, but more often than not murdered in entirety, Nazi officers would move into these beautiful homes and live in them as if they were their own.  With the Jewish people being shipped to concentration camps and murdered in the millions, the Nazis who would move into the homes belonging to Jewish families with no remorse or conscience.  In comparison to torture and murder this was certainly not the worst thing done to the Jews of Europe, but emotionally it was destructive and it exemplified the disdain and hatred the Nazis had towards the Jewish people and their feeling that we as Jews were a subhuman race.

Fast forward to today and the State of Israel, whose capital is the beautiful and biblical city of Jerusalem.  A city rich with historical beauty and culture, built into a modern and wonderful city by a Jewish government as a home for the Jewish people.  As a peace process continuously stalls because of the Palestinian leadership’s desire to take Jerusalem from the Jewish people and as Iran’s leadership openly speaks of ridding Jerusalem of Jews, the parallel in approach to Hitler’s Germany is eerily similar.  Move into the home built by Jews and live there as though it was your own.  Of course the difference today is that an army exists that will fight as hard as necessary to prevent this, but the mere fact that such behavior has once again reared its ugly head is a sobering thought for anyone that looks at history from an honest perspective and one that should not be ignored.


The advantage of having brilliance on your side

alan-dershowitz-1When a man of the intellect of Alan Dershowitz is in your corner, you have an advantage over those pushing an agenda with inaccuracies and prejudices.  What makes his stand even more effective in my opinion is the fact that this is a man who has what are considered liberal views on many issues but takes a tough position in defending the Jewish people and the State of Israel when attacked unfairly and with hatred.  As a Jew and an American, I say thank you to Alan Dershowitz.  Read this article for one of the reasons why.

Ten reasons why BDS is immoral and hinders peace

 


WIN A COPY OF THE BOOK!

9781468573909_COVER.inddAs of 5 minutes before making this post the Facebook page for Jew Face has 267 Likes.  When the page reaches300 Likes there will be a raffle to give out a free Paperback or Electronic version of the book “Jew Face: A story of Love and Heroism in Nazi-occupied Holland”.

 


The Ukraine Situation: More serious than many realize

140123_FOR_Ukraine.jpg.CROP.promo-mediumlargeHow important is it that the Ukraine, a country of more than 40 million people is on edge?  Besides the human factor, no one likes to see people die violent deaths, does the current situation matter to us?  The answer to this is a resounding yes.

I am sure that there are some out there that see the current situation as merely interesting news.  However, it is a situation like this that magnifies the tensions between countries and weakens the resolve of alliances.   More specifically, Russia with its connection to the Ukrainian government finds itself at odds with the European Union and of course, as has become far too frequent, at odds with the United States.  With both the EU and US considering sanctions to pressure the government of the Ukraine, the schism between Russia and the west is growing.  It has the frightening impression of a situation where the lines are being drawn, and divisions are becoming stronger.  With growing economic problems and worldwide unrest in a variety of nations, the situation is one that should concern all of us.

I do not usually use this forum to stir up fear.  However, being that this is a site dedicated to those lost as a result of the biggest war and worst atrocities in mankind’s history,  it becomes more and more important to bring to light issues that have the potential to put the world on the brink.

Let’s pray and hope that calmer heads prevail.


President’s Day Question

clintobushWhich president do you consider to have been the best friend of the Jewish people and the State of Israel?

In order to receive what I hope will be a fair and non-partisan response I would say that in recent times  a valid argument  can be made for  both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.

Who do you say?  If at all possible post your responses to the blog.  Thanks!