Tag Archives: Jesus

Another Open Letter to Russell Brand

rus2Dear Russell,

Frankly I am not sure what upsets me more, the fact that you are still talking or the fact that last week the Huffington Post chose to provide you with a forum to regurgitate more of your self-serving ramblings(CLICK HERE TO READ THE OP-ED).   I am glad you think you’re not an anti-Semite because indeed that may be a step in the right direction, but unless you wrote that piece after once again dropping acid, something that in the past gave you your “pro-Jewish” epiphany, you are missing some very important points in your argument.

First of all, there is no fair way to discuss Israel’s military action in Gaza without mentioning the terrorist activities of Hamas.  Not only do you not do that, you never once even mention Hamas.  I maintain, as I did in my last letter to you(CLICK HERE TO READ), that you, like so many others don’t go after terrorist groups as hard as you go after Israel because you know the Israeli government won’t hunt you down and kill you in the street.  Hamas just might.  So conveniently leaving Hamas out of the discussion, and with all the dribble you wrote I am sure it was not a mere oversight, you are once again showing your cowardice.

Here is why mentioning Hamas is so key to the discussion.  You claim the actions by Israel are based in the economic gains of a right-wing government aligned with right-wing institutions in other parts of the world.  You do not back it up with facts, facts I would love to see because it would be enlightening to see how the Gaza campaign did anything to better anyone economically.  In truth the Gaza campaign was necessary, and sadly more campaigns will be in the future, because the ruling party of Gaza is sworn to the destruction of Israel and to the death of all Jews.  You somehow missed that in your long Op Ed professing your love for the Jewish people.

Allow me to teach you something you are required to learn if you do not want to be deemed an anti-Semite or someone who promotes anti-Semitism.  What you need to understand is more than just what you choose to see about an Israeli government.  What you need to grasp better is the concept of the modern State of Israel.

The State of Israel declared independence in 1948, 3 years removed from the murder of 6 millions Jews.  Or as your buddy Khaleed Meshaal says, a genocide only half as bad as what Israel committed in Gaza.  Israel was not set up as a way for Jews to colonize the entire Middle East or commit atrocities.  It was set up as a safe-haven, a guardian nation so to speak, for a race of people, my people incidentally, that was devastated in an unspeakable fashion.  The State of Israel was in somewhat set up as a nation designed to guarantee that what happened to the Jewish people under Hitler would indeed never happen again. So when you promote political and philosophical viewpoints that put the State of Israel in danger for its life, you don’t merely attack Benjamin Netanyahu and Likud, you attack Jews worldwide.  You may claim that you are not an anti-Semite, but your statements increase the likelihood of many dead Jews. Regardless of what you claim to be your intentions, it doesn’t get much more anti-Semitic than that.

I loved this line of yours in your Op Ed: “It is the exclusion of the sane majority that allows extremists to prosper. The insanity across the Middle East is so deeply terrifying and giddyingly futile that most people, despondent and bilious want to look away.”  And yet, no mention of Hamas.  No mention of terrorism.  No mention of how similar Hamas is to ISIS or how Israel gives more civil rights to their Muslim citizens than almost every Arab country. It seems like you almost get it sometimes, but then your personal bias or delusion takes over and you revert back to the Neo anti-Semite you so don’t want to be.  Cough cough.

Although most people seemed to like my first letter to you, there were some disturbed my personal attacks on you. I almost felt bad about it till I read how in referring to Bill O’Reilly you said he was “A hollering parasite of his own punctured anus,” and Sean Hannity you called a  “Fox News’ shop-dummy-polemicist.”  I feel much better about calling you an idiot and a coward now.  Something I still believe to be true.

Since you claim to believe in positive action, here’s a suggestion for some very positive action. Shut up.  You are actually doing more harm than good.  I know you think you are this generations Jesus, but in truth you are merely a court jester giving more Brits the ultimate justification to jump on a plane to Syria, (via Turkey) to sign up for ISIS and battle the west you clearly seem to hate so much.  Funny enough, it’s the same west that made you rich.  I think you need to realize there is something far worse than being so despondent and bilious that you want to look away.  It’s looking right at it and ignoring the truth.  Something anti-Semites are very good at.

Sincerely,

David Groen

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Dear Anti-Semite

jewish_starDear Anti-Semite,

I have spent a lifetime trying to find out what makes you tick, and now that I believe I have discovered what it is I wanted to address you directly, intelligently, and with a basic respect for mankind.

What you may or may not know, is that we, meaning me and many of my fellow Jews, do care enough to want to know what are the root causes of your hatred for us. We may take an indignant approach to you the individual, but I am sure you can understand that.  No one feels warmth towards someone who hates them.

Let me start by being very clear about something.  If you verbally declare that you do not dislike Jews, even if some of your actions may hint otherwise, I am not addressing you, because if you feel in your heart that you do not want harm to come to the Jewish people as a whole, you may not be my friend, but you are also not the problem.  This letter is for those who come right out and say, ” I don’t like” or “I hate the Jews”.

I recognize that there are two types of anti-Semites.  The ones who are born into it and the ones who made that choice later in life.  Although every human being has the freedom to think as they like, those born into it, for example, Palestinian children and young adults in Gaza, haven’t been given much of a choice. The understanding of Jews being evil and the need to get rid of them is all they’ve been taught.  No one questions what makes them hate Jews.  They don’t know any other way.  What makes it even more difficult is that they only know information provided to them and therefore the chances of them changing how they feel is next to impossible without being exposed to an alternate way of thinking and an open and honest exchange of information.

In many ways this letter is directed to those of you in the second category, the ones that came to the conclusion on their own to hate Jews and despite a strong negative influence, live in free societies where forming different opinions is allowed and in some places even encouraged.  So the question is, why do you hate me when you don’t even know me?

Well the truth is, and I hope you are willing to admit this, it wouldn’t matter if you did know me.  You’ve made a choice to hate me because of what I am, not who I am.  I stopped to consider the fact that it is because you believe we killed Jesus, but let’s be honest again.  That argument is full of holes.  I know many people, Catholics, Christians, etc., that have devoted their life to their following of Jesus and do not hate Jews at all. In many cases they love us. Even those who believe we killed their Lord, if they are genuine about God’s teachings will not find it possible to hate their fellow-man.  So in the case of those who call that the reason, I also maintain it’s not the reason they hate us, it’s the justification they use for their hate.

You can say we’re cheap, arrogant, obnoxious, etc., and although I don’t deny that there are those among us who are all of those things, if you look at it honestly you’ll admit that we don’t have the corner on any of those negative stereotypes.  Every group has plenty of people who are cheap, arrogant or obnoxious.  Even whatever group you belong to has people in those categories.

Since I started by saying I have the answer, here it is.  It comes down to two issues.  First of all, when people are not satisfied entirely with how their life is going they try to find someone to blame.  That’s not news.  We all know that. But why are the Jews so often the choice?  Well it’s because despite the fact that we come from everywhere, can look the same as everyone else, be White, Black, Asian, African, European, have blonde hair, black hair, red hair, be short or be tall, we always choose to distinguish ourselves as Jewish. Ironically the biggest complaint Jewish religious leaders have of other Jews is the fact that they assimilate.  I am here to tell you that I realize that one of the reasons you hate me is because despite my physical appearance allowing me to hide what I am, I choose to be proud of what I am.  That infuriates you because you interpret it as though I am saying that I am better than you, even if it is not what I intend to be saying.  As a group we are unapologetically proud of our history and culture.  That makes you angry and makes us easier to identify and a much easier target.

The second reason, and the one that I think is the primary one, is our durability.  Despite massacres, persecutions, wars, a Holocaust, and countless attempts to rid the world of us, we’re still here.  That does two things.  For the more ignorant it frightens you.  It will be used it to justify some of the most bizarre accusations one people has ever had to endure.  Human blood in Matzah, demonic partners with Satan, etc. After all, something has to be keeping this indestructible people on the planet.  The Chosen People thing certainly doesn’t work for you.  We must have made a deal with the devil to stick around as long as we have.  I would actually say that if you do believe in the devil, it is the devil making you hate us, not the devil working with us.  But that thought process requires a paradigm shift of enormous proportions so subsequently I do not hold out hope that you will see it that way.  I just want to propose that theory to you if you believe the Devil is involved.  After all, the Devil would try to stop you from supporting a people whose contribution to medicine, technology and culture is so significant that I am fairly positive you reading this has gained some benefit from it as well.

The other thing it does is motivate the power-hungry manipulator of the masses.  Someone trying to rally people behind hate sees the elimination of the Jews as the ultimate challenge, believing that they will be the person that finally wiped these people off the planet.  They present it as though our very presence is a challenge to everything good they are trying to create, even if what they are trying to create is self-serving and evil.  These pariahs that just won’t go away are going to finally be destroyed by that powerful leader taking you, the poor, disadvantaged, disenfranchised citizen to the promised land.  It sounds so good, why not kill Jews to get there.

My advice to you is to take heed of this reasoning because if you stop and think about it, you’d be much wiser taking this information and using it to alter your mindset.  History shows not only that we do not go away, but those who tried to get rid of us failed miserably in the end.  Hitler was very successful in killing a lot of Jews, but he ultimately failed in getting rid of Jewish people, and his obsession with doing so contributed to his defeat in the end.  I know that by saying that I am indicating that I believe God is on our side, something that makes you hate me even more, but here’s a better suggestion.  Either pick a winner and support us, or trust God to pick whatever side is the right side, regardless of your choice it results in a lot less hate in your heart.  I assure you in the end you’ll be happier for it.

Sincerely,

David Groen

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The Last Seder?

mealDespite my own personal ideological struggles, I am a Jew who believes in the philosophies of Judaism before I believe in those of any other religion.  However, I do feel that now maybe more than any time in history the alliance between Christians and Jews has never been more important.  The rise of Islam, a rise that in many places preaches only Islam, has put the concept of freedom of religion in more danger than any time in modern history.  With that in mind I am making a short post to discuss, and hopefully create a discussion regarding the connection between Passover and Easter.

I often say, only partially tongue in cheek, that there are 2 major differences between Christianity and Judaism.  One is that while Christians are awaiting the 2nd coming, us Jews are still awaiting the 1st.  Either way we are still awaiting the supposed Messiah or Messianic era.  The second difference would be the disagreement over who is the best Jew of all time.  There would be some discussion on the matter, but as a Jew I would put in my vote for Moses, and I would be surprised if I didn’t end up backing the winner.  Christians however, even if they have a fondness for Moses, clearly would pick Jesus.

It is widely believed that “The last supper” was actually a Passover Seder.  Seeing the apparent time of year and the fact that a group got together around the table for discussion, there is much credence to this belief.  Ultimately, those who believe in the Messiah coming in a mystical, ultra spiritual way would see the events celebrated by Christians as a realistic method for the savior to be revealed.  Us Jews however do not believe that has actually taken place.  However, if either belief causes people to behave in ways of peace, love and tolerance, they help the world far more than hurt the world.

What are your thoughts?


Being Jewish on Christmas

jewishchThe most intriguing thing for me as I sit and write this is the question continuously going through my mind.  Although I write this for everyone, is this piece more important for those close to me who are Jewish, or those close to me who are not?  Maybe I’ll have my answer by the time I finish it, but for now let me first begin by wishing all those who celebrate the holiday a very Merry Christmas.

Now that I may have lost the Ultra-Orthodox Jewish and Atheists among the readers let me continue.

Let me begin by stating the obvious.  Jesus, as we all know, was Jewish.  So being Jewish on Christmas is a complicated concept to begin with.  This past week I had a mini debate with someone who insisted that Jesus converted to Christianity.  I insisted that was not true.  This person insisted they were told that in school, while I assured them they were never told any such thing.  Now of course I can’t be sure what the teachers actually said, but to the best of my understanding Jesus lived as a Jew and died as a Jew.  Christianity was the religion formed from those who followed him and believed him to be the Messiah as understood by Jewish teachings.  To the best of my understanding Jesus never turned away from Judaism, he just created a following of those who felt he was the Messiah, or Savior which subsequently caused him to be seen as a problem by many in the Jewish hierarchy, an issue that causes some to accuse the Jews of killing Jesus, even though in reality it was the Romans.

Now that I may have lost the ignorant and anti-Semitic among the readers let me continue further.

I was very fortunate to grow up in a household that was, in many ways open-minded.  Christmas decorations, movies, and music were all appreciated for their beauty and not seen as a threat to our religious makeup.  The result of this is me being an adult Jewish male capable of enjoying the atmosphere in households with Christmas trees, decorations and Christmas music and lights.  It’s all very nice and uncomplicated and allows me to enjoy whatever situation I am thrown into, or dare I say even pursue this time of year.  What all this does not do is answer the one question.  What does it mean to be Jewish on Christmas?

Well the first answer is very simply, it depends on the person.  I know that to some Jewish people it means nothing.  Although some do find it diametrically opposed to all they believe in, for many of those that fall into this category it is not something negative, merely something insignificant.  I understand this point of view because to those who focus entirely on the religious aspect, Christmas is something to be celebrated only by those who believe in Jesus being more than a man.  I remember a trip I took to London that included me being there on December 25th.  The majority of my friends, people who I went to an Orthodox Jewish day school with, were getting together with their families for “Christmas dinner”.  In fact I was told that in the days leading up to Christmas the Kosher butchers sold turkeys by the dozens and ended up selling out of them completely.  To these friends of mine this was clearly not a religious pursuit, rather it was an opportunity to get together with their family and have good food and some fun.  Not unlike Thanksgiving Day in the United States.

I dare say that to some Jews there may even exist a phenomenon that could be called Christmas envy.  It is why sometimes we say Merry Christmas first, just to get a “same to you” response.  After all, who wants to be excluded from “good will to all men”? I sure as hell know I don’t.

Now that I may have lost those who feel the use of the word “hell” is inappropriate and not Godly let me conclude.

I like Christmas.  It is a nice holiday, filled with good food, pretty sights and the best of intentions.  If you believe as I do, that the major difference between Jews and Catholics is really only whether or not the next coming is the first one or the second, you have no trouble with any of the religious significance.  When no religiously motivated hatred exists on either side, all that really matters is the fact that people are getting together with those they care about, or at the very least like enough to be at a party with.  For many Catholics who indeed celebrate Christmas, the religious significance is not what is even important to them about the holiday. Instead it’s the decorations, food, and family, making it not at all complicated for me to justify my enjoying it as well.

So to all of you who celebrate, or to those of you like me who have a good time any time I am invited to be part of the celebration, Merry Christmas.

And should there be any out there who I lost at this point because they felt that as a Jew I should not be so comfortable in speaking of the beauty that can surround Christmas, I urge you to read the following excerpt from the book “Jew Face”.  It is indeed one of my personal favorite excerpts and speaks of my parents and their experience on Christmas Eve 1944 in what was then Nazi-occupied Holland.

 

 

Excerpt from “Jew Face”:

Christmas Eve

It had been close to a year now since Sipora had arrived in Lemerlerveld, and although she hoped and prayed that she would not have to live out her days in the conditions in which she currently found herself, the te Kieftes had been extraordinary in their treatment of her and Nardus, and the people of the village had made her feel as much at home as they were able to under the circumstances.

There was no hatred toward the Jewish people in Lemerlerveld. However, being that the population of the town was mainly Protestant, Jewish practices, customs, and holidays were not part of the life here, and living there meant that Nardus and Sipora could not practice their faith. With the positive treatment they received, they were welcomed by Bertus and Geeske, as well as their family and friends, to celebrate their events and holidays.

So on December 24, 1944, as the German forces had fallen in the south, and the Allies moved closer to what they all hoped would be the end of the brutal occupation of Europe, Nardus and Sipora were invited to join the Christmas Eve dinner and celebration at the Oosterwegels household.

For one night, it felt like all the horror, sadness, and tragedy was frozen in time. The night was a special one. The atmosphere was wonderful. The home was filled with the warm glow of candles and the aroma of a special meal. The guest list was a mix of people from town, Bertus and Geeske with their two children, Bertus’s brother with his family, underground activists, Communists, and Nardus and Sipora. Maybe the specter of an impending Allied victory made the evening more special, but the warmth and joy present on this night was something neither Nardus nor Sipora would ever forget.

There are days, events, and situations when the world feels like one place, when people who come from different backgrounds and different beliefs come together under God’s watchful eye and show that even with all the force and determination of evil forces, good still survives and, on occasion, even thrives. When the manner in which you worship takes a back seat to the basic fact that you do worship. And all that has happened and will happen doesn’t matter for those moments that get frozen in time, bring joy to many, and give everyone the hope that there will be a reason to continue on with life’s efforts.

Christmas Eve 1944 in Lemerlerveld, in the Oosterwegel household, was one of those nights, and Sipora and Nardus were glad to be part of it.