Sunday, October 10, 2004

Jewish Unity- A Reply to Edgar Bronfman

Friday's Jerusalem Post (it's not on the website) reported that Edgar Bronfman has adopted Yossi Beilin's idea that anyone who wants to be considered a Jew should be automatically so considered. He, however, goes one step forward. He declares that the traditional Jewish insistence that non-Jews undergo conversion in order to become Jews is similar to the "racist policies of the Nazis!

I never know whether to laugh bitterly or cry when I read this type of thing. The laughter comes from the realization that if Bronfman and company have their way, it will be easier to become Jewish than it will to join the Harvard Club of New York or the Yale Skull and Bones Society. They, at least have standards. Bronfman (and Beilin) have so little regard for the Jewish people that they think that there need be no standards or commitments required of potentia entrants to the Jewish people. My grandmother would call that a 'sheyner gelechter.' In other words, if t weren't so tragically stupid, it would be comical. More to the point, how can anyone who has seen the ingathering of the exiles that has occurred here, comprehending Jews of every conceivable color and racial type, utter such an insensitive, mendacious comment?

Several possibilities do come to mind. First, Bronfman's comment illustrates the bankruptcy of part of the efforts toward 'Jewish Continuity.' Now, I don't want to be misunderstood here. There are wonderful educational and communal efforts being made toward fighting assimilation and Jewish illiteracy throughout the Jewish World. All too often, however, 'Jewish Continuity' means: How can my children/grandchildren remain Jewish without doing anything about it (except, perhaps, by writing a check)?

That's, essentially, what Bronfman is saying. Let's declare everybody Jewish (especially non-Jewish spouses) and the hell with the Jewish religion. Intermarriage is a source of strength, he asserts. Statistics show that only 3 out of every 10 children of intermaried couples see themselves as Jews (never mind that Conservative and Orthodox Jews still require traditional conversions) In that light, Bronfman is essentially calling for de facto assimilation. That, in turn, reminds me of something that Ber Borokhov once said that assimilation is to the Jew what suicide is for the individual. Declaring everyone Jewish, with absolutely no regard for the integrity of Jewish tradition, peoplehood, culture and history is nothing less than a call for suicide.

There's even more to it than that, but it will have to wait for a future posting.


Anonymous said...

You can't really make an analogy between Harvard and Yahadut. I mean, that's silly.

Brafman can say what he said, because unlike you, he doesn't think Judaism is a snooty university, with a reputation to enhance and protect.

Think about this a little more deeply, with a little less sarcasm, and Brafman POV will become clear to you.

You've let us know, after all, that you have enough brainpower to figure this out.

andy said...

I thought it apt that we were treated to these views by someone who is currently on his fifth marriage.

Mr. Bronfman has unusually wide experience in creating Jewish families and we should treat his opinions with all the respect they deserve.

Jeffrey said...

Bronfman has shown that he has no respect for Jewish history, self-sacrifice, tradition or integrity. He has forgotten, or never learned, that identity is based upon delineation and not the blurring of distinctions. His sugestion, sociologically speaking, is a recipe for suicide.

Yes, one must be considerate of individuals. Sometimes, and here I'm terribly NON-Post-Modern, the individual's sensitivities must be sacrificed for the integrity of the whole.