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Is There Too Much Jewish Influence?

Thursday, 9 January, 2020 - 1:22 pm

There has been some reaction to the recent uptick of attacks on Jews and Jewish institutions, that seeks to highlight some kind of insidious “Jewish influence” and the repercussions which that engenders. This reaction has some blatantly anti-Semitic sentiments. It also consists of the ridiculous attempt to blame the individual victims for the perceived grievances of the group with whom they affiliate.

At this week's “No Hate, No Fear” solidarity march with the Jewish community in NY, New York Times columnist Barri Weiss gave an impassioned speech about what makes her proud to be Jewish. It is a worthy read (or watch). This really brought the idea of Jewish pride to the forefront of people’s consciousness.

What are we proud of as Jews? We find the use of monikers such as “the chosen people.” What were we chosen for? What responsibility does that confer upon us? What kind of Jewish influence has there been in a positive sense in our society?

By Divine Providence, long before this latest rash of anti-Semetic incidents, the Jewish Learning Institute prepared the course for winter 2020 entitled, “Judaism’s Gifts to the World.” This course should be our response to accusations of Jewish influence and anti-Semitism. It deals with six fundamental values that Judaism, via the Torah, introduced to civilization. They include, The Gift of Social Responsibility, The Gift of a Guiding Purpose, The Gift of Respect for Life, The Gift of Equality and Individuality, The Gift of Work/Life Balance, and The Gift of Escaping the Cycle. By tracing their fascinating journey to the mainstream, we’ll discover a timeless core of purpose, integrity, and clarity in each value; a powerful gift of guidance as we navigate our own daily choices.

Here in New Orleans, as in hundreds of locations around the world, this course will offered beginning at the end of this month. At Chabad Uptown, the class will be offered on six Wednesdays starting January 29. For more information and to register, see www.chabadneworleans.com/jli. The first class will be free and open to the public at 7:15 pm on Wednesday, January 29. For more info see www.facebook.com/events/776308576203260. Dinner will be served. Please share this with anyone who may be interested. There is no obligation to sign up for the rest of the course, but beware that it may be too interesting to resist…

At Chabad Metairie, the course will be offered on six Tuesdays starting January 21 (with a week off for Mardi Gras). For more information and to register, see www.jewishlouisiana.com/jli. The first class will be free and open to the public at 7:15 pm on Wednesday, January 29. For more info see www.facebook.com/events/603993793697142. As above, Dinner will be served. Please share this with anyone who may be interested. There is no obligation to sign up for the rest of the course, but beware that it may be too interesting to resist…

We can either bemoan anti-Semitism or we can address it. Certainly we need to be more vigilant and steps must be taken to deal with it on many fronts. But being armed with the knowledge of what Judaism has given to the world, is a wonderful component that can reap long-term benefits for ourselves and those with whom we interact.  

Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin
 

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