Spirit and sensivity

Last year, my father died and, in chance conversations with two liberal Jews, I used a common Yiddish & Hebrew phrase, Uleh leh shulem ('He rose to Heaven to his Peace'). They didn't know what I was talking about. One had the decency to admit it and asked me what the phrase meant. The other was just embarrassed by her ignorance when I had to explain it in order to continue our conversation. When I was growing up in the Bronx 50 years ago, this common Yiddish phrase was familiar to every Jew, from an illiterate immigrant to a typical homemaker to a college graduate New York City public school teacher.

It is my contention that these same assimilated liberal Jews who didn't recognize the phrase are the very ones who feel most threatened by a Nativity scene on a courthouse lawn, or the singing of Christmas carols, because they are the most alienated from their own religion and culture. The bigger the assimilation, the more they fear losing their identity by merely singing — or even hearing — "Jingle Bells."

The ACLU and even the Anti—Defamation League have attacked the display of Nativity scenes at Christmas constantly. One case recently occured in Elizabeth, Colorado. They used legal arguments which I disagree with but won't discuss here, as I am not an attorney. But I am more familiar with and qualified to discuss the social arguments used by non—attorney liberal Jews, that this is an affront to their Jewish religious sensibilities, that schools that force Jews in school pageants are forced to sing carols which somehow humiliate them. What ever happened to all the liberal talk about multiculturalism and celebrating diversity?

These arguments are largely the product of assimilation and guilt, with a desire to create an ersatz secular culture, unconnected to its nurturing roots. To give you a simple — maybe simplistic — example, American Jews say "Star of David" as their translation of Mogen David. I'm talking about the six pointed symbol, not the wine. The thing is, a mogen (or magan in Sephardic/Israeli Hebrew) is a 'shield,' not a star which is called a kochav.

Speaking of Kenneth Starr, in 1998, some Democrat Jews in Congress and their liberal Jewish supporters were making a big stink about The House Judiciary Committee releasing a video of President Clinton's testimony concerning his relationship with Monica Lewinsky. The tape was released on Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. They claimed it hurt their religious sensibilities.

I was shocked myself — that Jewish liberals even knew when the Jewish New Year occurred, or that they owned a Hebrew calendar in their homes. At the time, I had to counter—argue one such insincere expression of outrage in competing postings on the internet — and also deal with receiving an  accompanying obscene Instant Message from the same "religiously sensitive" guy, someone who, if asked where a synagogue was in his home town in the ultra—liberal San Francisco Bay area, couldn't find one on a bet. Years after dealing with him, the perfect answer came to me. Too late to reply to him, but we all can use it now in similar circumstances.

These three questions are directed to any Jewish liberal upset about a Christmas display or something similar. You can come up with your own basic questions for a liberal of another religious tradition who is similarly offended by Christmas carols or whatever. Notice I said "religious tradition" and not "religion" because a liberal's religion is Socialism or Marxism.

1. What is the name of the Book of Genesis in Hebrew?
Answer: Berayshis in Askenazi/European Hebrew, Behrehsheet in Sephardic/Israeli Hebrew.

2. What is the first word of the Bible (in the Book of Genesis) in Hebrew?
Answer: Same as Answer #1.

3. What does the word Berayshis or Behrehsheet mean in English?
Answer: It is a Hebrew contraction that means 'In the beginning.'

The odds are at least 3 to 1 that any Jewish liberal who was so incensed at the effrontery to his or her civil rights by the placing of a Nativity scene on a town hall lawn won't know the answers to these questions.

I come to the figure 3 to 1 because three Jews voted for John Kerry for every one who voted for President Bush. And I would bet a good dinner that if you questioned a group of one thousand Jews, the majority of those who knew all three answers to these questions voted for President Bush. In fact, it might be closer to 80% for Bush.

Jack Kemp is not the former football star, Congressman and Vice Presidential candidate

Last year, my father died and, in chance conversations with two liberal Jews, I used a common Yiddish & Hebrew phrase, Uleh leh shulem ('He rose to Heaven to his Peace'). They didn't know what I was talking about. One had the decency to admit it and asked me what the phrase meant. The other was just embarrassed by her ignorance when I had to explain it in order to continue our conversation. When I was growing up in the Bronx 50 years ago, this common Yiddish phrase was familiar to every Jew, from an illiterate immigrant to a typical homemaker to a college graduate New York City public school teacher.

It is my contention that these same assimilated liberal Jews who didn't recognize the phrase are the very ones who feel most threatened by a Nativity scene on a courthouse lawn, or the singing of Christmas carols, because they are the most alienated from their own religion and culture. The bigger the assimilation, the more they fear losing their identity by merely singing — or even hearing — "Jingle Bells."

The ACLU and even the Anti—Defamation League have attacked the display of Nativity scenes at Christmas constantly. One case recently occured in Elizabeth, Colorado. They used legal arguments which I disagree with but won't discuss here, as I am not an attorney. But I am more familiar with and qualified to discuss the social arguments used by non—attorney liberal Jews, that this is an affront to their Jewish religious sensibilities, that schools that force Jews in school pageants are forced to sing carols which somehow humiliate them. What ever happened to all the liberal talk about multiculturalism and celebrating diversity?

These arguments are largely the product of assimilation and guilt, with a desire to create an ersatz secular culture, unconnected to its nurturing roots. To give you a simple — maybe simplistic — example, American Jews say "Star of David" as their translation of Mogen David. I'm talking about the six pointed symbol, not the wine. The thing is, a mogen (or magan in Sephardic/Israeli Hebrew) is a 'shield,' not a star which is called a kochav.

Speaking of Kenneth Starr, in 1998, some Democrat Jews in Congress and their liberal Jewish supporters were making a big stink about The House Judiciary Committee releasing a video of President Clinton's testimony concerning his relationship with Monica Lewinsky. The tape was released on Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. They claimed it hurt their religious sensibilities.

I was shocked myself — that Jewish liberals even knew when the Jewish New Year occurred, or that they owned a Hebrew calendar in their homes. At the time, I had to counter—argue one such insincere expression of outrage in competing postings on the internet — and also deal with receiving an  accompanying obscene Instant Message from the same "religiously sensitive" guy, someone who, if asked where a synagogue was in his home town in the ultra—liberal San Francisco Bay area, couldn't find one on a bet. Years after dealing with him, the perfect answer came to me. Too late to reply to him, but we all can use it now in similar circumstances.

These three questions are directed to any Jewish liberal upset about a Christmas display or something similar. You can come up with your own basic questions for a liberal of another religious tradition who is similarly offended by Christmas carols or whatever. Notice I said "religious tradition" and not "religion" because a liberal's religion is Socialism or Marxism.

1. What is the name of the Book of Genesis in Hebrew?
Answer: Berayshis in Askenazi/European Hebrew, Behrehsheet in Sephardic/Israeli Hebrew.

2. What is the first word of the Bible (in the Book of Genesis) in Hebrew?
Answer: Same as Answer #1.

3. What does the word Berayshis or Behrehsheet mean in English?
Answer: It is a Hebrew contraction that means 'In the beginning.'

The odds are at least 3 to 1 that any Jewish liberal who was so incensed at the effrontery to his or her civil rights by the placing of a Nativity scene on a town hall lawn won't know the answers to these questions.

I come to the figure 3 to 1 because three Jews voted for John Kerry for every one who voted for President Bush. And I would bet a good dinner that if you questioned a group of one thousand Jews, the majority of those who knew all three answers to these questions voted for President Bush. In fact, it might be closer to 80% for Bush.

Jack Kemp is not the former football star, Congressman and Vice Presidential candidate