Someone I love immensely, and respect tremendously, recently wrote words that stung me. They weren’t really about me. And yet they were. Unintended pain, to be sure, and probably the result of previously-experienced pain of his own. Still, I
The essential premise was the alleged hypocrisy in Judaism’s on-going attempt to assert “particularity,” while at the same time seeking to foster “universalism.” After all, we invite non-Jews to Seder, during which we recount our national narrative. But so what? These goals aren’t mutually-exclusive. Potentially complicated? To be sure. But I’m not troubled by the fact that part of someone’s identity may be premised on religion or nation or family or clan; for many, these associations provide a sense of connection and deep meaning.
I was in Italy a few summers ago when they won the World Cup; locals poured into the streets and celebrated all night. Loudly. I loved it. Is there a slippery slope from country-love to off-putting jingoism? From ethnic-pride to offensive exceptionalism? From ritual embrace to dangerous fundamentalism? Potentially. Which is precisely why we must practice (and teach) our differentiations in the spirit of broad, genuine acceptance.cheap prilosec – online nolvadex buy
One of the reader’s comments in response to the original premise went further: “Can’t we reclaim Judaism from Zionism already?” Ugh. She doesn’t get it; and she can’t get past her own politics that blind as much as any borders. The latter’s not a bad word, nor is it a modern, European invention. It’s an ancient idea and it’s historically (leave aside theologically) fact. To be sure, it’s not always right, just like our Golden Medina, but it is justly entitled. And integrally connected to the bedrock religion, regardless of one’s personal faith.
In the end, I want my three children to believe they are special; not better than others, but beautifully distinct and worthy of remaining true to their separated selves. To paraphrase Robert Louis Stevenson, To be what they are, and to become capable of what they are capable of becoming. At the same time, I want them to heed the words of Jonathan Sacks, the Chief Rabbi of Great Britain, who wrote in The Dignity of Difference: “We encounter God in the face of the stranger. That is, I believe, the Hebrew Bible’s single greatest and most counterintuitive contribution to ethics…The human other is a trace of the Divine Other. As an ancient Jewish teaching puts it, ‘When a human being makes many coins in the same mint, they all come out the same. God makes every person in the same image—God’s image, and yet each one is different.’ The supreme religious challenge is to see God’s image in one who is not in our image.”