“They’ve forgotten what it means to be Jewish” has lately become quite a common slur lately. Bibi Netanyahu started it, Avi Gabbay followed suit, and journalist Yisrael Cohen is the latest to adopt it (Haaretz Hebrew, June 3). He used it to describe the woman who was filmed excoriating those Chabad nudniks who try to lasso travelers at the airport. One can understand her – they really are annoying, and not just at the airport. Once in their sights, it’s pretty impossible to get away from them without losing your cool.
I like to tell them, with a straight face, that in our egalitarian family we take turns. This month my wife puts on the tefillin and I wear the wig. But maybe next month And when I’m in a particularly bad mood, I unleash fake holy wrath on them and say that because their dead Rebbe-Messiah was a zealous anti-Zionist his whole life, I refuse to cooperate with his anti-Zionist adherents. It’s quite amusing to see their jaw drop and how deeply offended they are (I don’t tell them, of course, that in my book, “anti-Zionist” isn’t necessarily a derogatory term).
Yisrael Cohen will probably decide that I, too, have “forgotten what it means to be Jewish.” So be it. I’m not insulted. Forgetfulness is a useful human trait devoid of malice. To me, the fake Jews are a lot worse than the forgetful Jews. The fake Jews who’ve invented their own Judaism. A Judaism that’s as fake as a $3 bill. A Judaism tailored to their despicable needs, a Judaism designed to liberate all of their worst impulses – arrogance, thuggery, condescension, greed, racism and so on.
Here’s a little story, a small but typical incident that was reported a few days ago ("Jerusalem Palestinians detained, fined for waking up Muslims for nightly Ramadan meal," May 30) about the exploits of some “fake Jews” who settled in Al-Quds not so long ago.
This is what happened: There’s an ancient Muslim tradition whereby, during the month of Ramadan, before sunrise, young people in traditional garb go through the streets calling out to believers to rise and worship the Creator. This has been going on for centuries. This year, for the first time, the Israel Police started detaining some of these young men, issuing fines of thousands of shekels and generally treating them roughly. Why? What was different all of a sudden? Why now and never before?
According to the police: “Residents complained about the noise.” You don’t have to be a genius to know which “residents” complained.
Every Jewish child is familiar with the tales of the old beadle, the synagogue caretaker, who walks through the town and awakens Jews for the penitential selihot prayers. Jerusalemites have heard the tales of the vekker (“waker,” in Yiddish) in the ultra-Orthodox, or Haredi, neighborhoods. Countless tourists come to these areas at night to witness this holy work. Anyone who lives in religious parts of Jerusalem hears the shofar blasts and selihot prayers in the Hebrew months of Elul and Tishrei, at first light, or late at night.
Amazingly, the police have never been called to silence this loud public nuisance. Only against the Muslim "vekker" in the Old City who disturbs the rest of the “fake Jews.” That’s the only time the police are called. How much chutzpah and racism does it take to call the police in order to sabotage someone else’s tradition? Leave it to the fake Jews. If only they would forget some of the fake Judaism they’ve invented. If there were a God in heaven and if he were to look and see those who cite his name in vain, he would surely be sickened.
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