December 15, 2009 6:54 pm at 6:54 pm #590961
Around this time of year, you hear various complaints that we should not have public menorah lighting ceremonies, because as guests in another country like the USA, we should keep a low profile. People complain about Chabad’s trying to put up menorahs in town squares because they say this is not the way to conduct ourselves in golus. I personally do not mind Chabad’s efforts, and think that it helps nonreligious Jews to feel proud about being Jewish, and not to be embarrassed about their religion. This may cause people to want to find out more about their heritage. However, I do get upset when I read that lawsuits and strong-arm tactics are sometimes used to force cities to put up a menorah. I feel that is over the line.
But my main question is this: Those who feel that we must keep a low profile, sometimes are the ones who wear hats and jackets and tzitzis out and yeshivish or chassidish levush in public. Why should we not keep a low profile in these things, as well? Isn’t this a contradiction?
EDITEDDecember 15, 2009 7:05 pm at 7:05 pm #670196
Excellent question PY. I posted something similar on the news page but it hasn’t appeared for some reason.
If a secular Jew took aside a Jew who dressed frum in an office and asked him to tone it down with the beard, the tzitzis, the kippah and try not to look so Jewish we’d probably think that’s horrible and call him a self-hating Jew. But if a frum Jew tells others that publicly displaying a menorah is wrong because it will anger the goyim here in galus, we don’t think there’s any self-hatred there.
I’m personally not a huge fan of the large public menorah’s, but if they anger goyim and cause hatred, its because there’s something wrong with them, not with the Jew who’s displaying it. Moreover, I trust Chabad’s methods and techniques of reaching out to other Jews, as nobody, anywhere, does a better and more courageous job than they do.December 15, 2009 7:06 pm at 7:06 pm #670197AnonymousInactive
I think that the issue is: is whatever we are doing making a chilul hashem. Keeping your tzitzis out nowadays shouldn’t be an issue because the goyim dress extremely weird. So having strings sticking out of someone’s belt shouldn’t be an issue.
Is putting up a menora outside a chilul hashem? The goyim put their decorations outside…December 15, 2009 7:42 pm at 7:42 pm #670198smalltowngirlMember
wow, does that mean that because the “goyim” do something, well it must be ok for us as well –
Don’t we want to be just like the “goyim”?
They put their decorations outside… they dress extremely weird…uh so what!
I am different! B”HDecember 15, 2009 7:45 pm at 7:45 pm #670199
from the news:
a town in Massachusetts ruled that holiday displays on the town common were ok, but they could only stand for one day. The one-day rule was adopted earlier this year, and applies to all organizations, religious or not.
The local rabbi wanted it up for a full 8 days, as it was last year.
In the end, the rule was waived for the Menorah, and also for a “Merry Christmas” sign that was hung atop the firehouse for the past 50 years.December 15, 2009 7:45 pm at 7:45 pm #670200thinking jewMember
I don’t think the issue is only chilul hashem, there is certainly an inyan of keeping a low profile even if what you’re doing is perfectly ok I’m not sure what the mekor for this is [I can try to find out) but when we are in Galus we are not supposed to do anything which might anger the goyim unless of course it’s a specific mitzva. Dressing like a frum yid probably goes into the catagory of a mitzva and is a personal thing which can not be compared to lighting a public menorah, there’s no reason a goy should be angered by the way a yid dresses, however a huge menorah is inescapable and can be very annoying to a goy to see juadiasm glaring in his face like that. besides that this is something new and has never been done in history before certainly not by any gedolim whereas dressing like a yid has always been a part of yidishkeit.
(most of us even light indoors today because in Europe the goyim were hostile towards us and so it wasnt safe to light outside, Kal VaChomer a huge public Menorah.)December 15, 2009 7:47 pm at 7:47 pm #670201
that reminds me of the judge in the town that I was reared in.
Every Succoth, some municipal official or citizen would hail some poor homeowner into court for building a succah and violating some zoning regulation.
The judge would hear the case as soon as possible, usually the third day of Succoth.
He would speak to the violator sternly, and order that the succah be taken down within a week.December 15, 2009 7:55 pm at 7:55 pm #670202plaidMember
*counting on fingers…*
:)He got off lucky!
😉December 15, 2009 8:16 pm at 8:16 pm #670204
If a person is acting in a way that “shem Shayayim misaheiv” al libo, I doubt levush is an issue. But the public menorah stuff is a different story. I’m sure there are places where it’s handled well, is still so far overshadowed by the dominant culture that it’s not in anyone’s face, etc. and in those cases, kol hakavod.December 15, 2009 9:08 pm at 9:08 pm #670205
Thinking Jew wrote “there’s no reason a goy should be angered by the way a yid dresses, however a huge menorah is inescapable and can be very annoying to a goy to see juadiasm glaring in his face like that.”
I don’t understand this at all. First, I don’t understand why a goy whose going to be annoyed by a menorah would feel that there’s no reason to be angered by the way a Jew dresses. If you’re going to be an anti-semite, and hate Jewish people and stuff, you’ll have a problem with his dress.
But second of all, I don’t understand the idea that it can be very annoying to a goy to see judaism glaring in his face. Sure, that may be so. But that is because he is a rotten anti-semite. There is something wrong with him, not the Jew who he hates. Yes, there is a general practice of keeping a low profile in general and being modest, but the idea that we need to be sensitive to how enraging a menorah can be to an anti-semitic goy who hates Jews and can’t stand the sight of them is silly and ultimately self-destructive.
If you think a goy who has a problem doesn’t have a problem with distinctively Jewish dress, you are wrong.December 16, 2009 1:43 am at 1:43 am #670206yankdownunderMember
Why should Yiddin keep a low profile and not have a public lighting of a Menorah. Maybe just maybe someone viewing the lighting may become enlightned return to Hashem and start tshuvah. It wouldn’t be the first time. Goyam light up the outside and inside of their homes Neon Style why is this okay? It seems like a gross double standard.December 16, 2009 2:41 pm at 2:41 pm #670207smalltowngirlMember
Why look for equality, who are you looking to be equal to? The goyim? You gotta be kidding?!December 16, 2009 3:20 pm at 3:20 pm #670208mazcaMember
big menorah, big xmas tree,
I think we just want to put a menorah to compete with their holidays, if chanukah would have fallen in the summer nobody would have thought of putting it in a big display. People want to tell the goyim we also have something to celebrate this time of the year. Do we really need to celebrate chanukah like is our xmas?December 16, 2009 3:43 pm at 3:43 pm #670209
If we don’t want to put up a large public menorah because that is not the proper way to celebrate Hanukah, that’s fine. If we don’t want to put up a large public Menorah because we don’t want to imitate the xtian ways of celebrating xmas, that’s fine too. But we should not decline to put up a large public menorah because we believe that our very existence is so revolting to others.
editedDecember 16, 2009 5:58 pm at 5:58 pm #670210A600KiloBearParticipant
The secular Jew feels very left out during the winter holiday season and it is exactly now when he or she needs to see a reminder that he or she is Jewish and should be proud of it, even though we know full well that it is not chas vesholom the equivalent of a tree or lehavdil any sort of nitel scene. I know because while today I volunteer at least one night with my fellow Chabad Chassidim (tomorrow night this year), when I was a little boy I asked my mother whether we could have a tree that year when she took me to Macy’s during this season.
That is why we light the menorahs outdoors, and in the end it is usually Jews who give us problems with permit related complaints etc (cf the ACLU years ago). The anti-Semitic actions come from the lowest strata of society who would have sadly found a shul to vandalize instead (perhaps because they are reminded at this time by parents, extremist galochim etc of their belief that the Jews killed yoshke).
(The Admou”r meCreedmoor prefers to light large menorahs indoors, near an open gas valve or a barrel or two of kerosene, but his is a minority view and he lights from Dec 25 to Jan 1 anyway because he doesn’t want to celebrate a tzioinish yom tov!)December 16, 2009 6:03 pm at 6:03 pm #670211
In some ways, the idea of putting Menorahs everywhere maintains an image that Judaism is normal and popular. Just the same as advertising. Why does Coke constantly have to run ads when everybody already knows about the drink? They do it to keep drumming it into people’s heads that it is cool and popular and American and you are a nerd if you don’t drink it. You need to keep reminding people over and over that Coke is the thing.
Similarly, if people keep seeing a lot of Menorahs all over, they subconsciously get the message that Jews are a normal and cool people too, and just as American as everybody else. This may be very good for public school kids so they are not ashamed to maintain some Jewish identity which may eventually lead to their wanting to know more.
I thought it was a positive thing that for a number of years the most popular TV show was Seinfeld, just because he is openly Jewish. (Look, I am not saying I watched it, Mods.) It does mean there is a level of acceptance of Jewish people in the USA and this implies a decrease in anti-semitism. We are lucky to be living in a country which overall has been so kind to us.December 16, 2009 7:06 pm at 7:06 pm #670212haifagirlParticipant
It does mean there is a level of acceptance of Jewish people in the USA and this implies a decrease in anti-semitism. We are lucky to be living in a country which overall has been so kind to us.
Let’s not forget what it was like to live in friendly countries before. Like Spain in the 1480s. Or Germany in the 1930s.December 16, 2009 8:42 pm at 8:42 pm #670213
To Pashuteh Yid: Have you read Shtickshift by Simcha Weinstein? Interesting take on the impact of Jewish humor in America.December 16, 2009 9:26 pm at 9:26 pm #670214
Here’s another question related to PY’s initial question. Should we keep a low profile with respect to an issue like the bike lane through Williamsburg?
My point is not to bring this off track into whether or not the bike lane in Williamsburg is acceptable or not, but to ask what people think in terms of how this relates to the low profile/galus issue. Any thoughts?December 16, 2009 9:34 pm at 9:34 pm #670215
Many Jewish groups objected to the Seinfeld show precisely because he WASN’T openly Jewish. His character never identified himself as Jewish, none of the girls he dated ever were identifiably Jewish, and there were no signs of jewishness around his home.December 17, 2009 3:05 am at 3:05 am #670216haifagirlParticipant
Many Jewish groups objected to the Seinfeld show precisely because he WASN’T openly Jewish. His character never identified himself as Jewish, none of the girls he dated ever were identifiably Jewish, and there were no signs of jewishness around his home.
Just a slight exaggeration. I can’t remember if his character ever identified himself as Jewish, but there was at least one girl he went out with who kept kosher. And after Elaine was told by a rabbi that she has “shiksappeal” she asked Jerry if that were true.December 17, 2009 4:05 am at 4:05 am #670217
I stand corrected.December 17, 2009 4:41 am at 4:41 am #670218oomisParticipant
Yeah, Jerry was seeing this girl Rachel, and George deliberately fed her lobster in some fried eggs, to get even with her because he was upset with her. I always find it so odd when a character in media who CLEARLY has no semblance of frumkeit in any form, makes such a big deal out of saying he or she is kosher (when in fact they are eating everything treif EXCEPT for the ham and lobster). In my experience, with family members who are frei, they absolutely DO eat seafood, and have no problem with doing so.December 17, 2009 7:16 am at 7:16 am #670219
Ok, I still stand corrected on Seinfeld. In 9 seasons, and 180 episodes, there was only a bit of jewishness in the show.
But, Dear Pashuteh, I think your premise may be wrong.
Most people would say that the worst decade for Jews in the US was the 1930’s. Father Coughlin was spewing his antisemitic vitriol from Detroit over the nationa airwaves, Hitler’s propaganda machine was supplying anti-Jewish organizations in the US with first-rate propaganda.
Yet, during that time, even before that time and after that time, what was the most popular show on radio? The Goldbergs, also called “The Rise of the Goldbergs,” and “Molly.” It was a show about a loving Jewish family living on East Tremont Avenue in The Bronx, the parents and elders speaking with Yiddish accents, living in a tenement, using Jewish words, celebrating Passover and Yom Kippur, all the while generally being funny and positive. They occasionally addressed more serious issues, such as Kristallnacht, in an episode where a stone is hurled through the Goldberg’s window during their Passover seder.
Most of the action took place in the kitchen, where neighbors and friends and others would come to visit (*does this sound like Seinfeld at all?*) It was a revolutionary show, and the forebear to “I Love Lucy,” “The Honeymooners,” and also “Seinfeld.”
The only 15-minute comedy that had a longer life than “The Goldbergs” was “Amos and Andy.”
An article in SLATE magazine in 2007k, a Jewish educator said, “This series has done more to set us Jews right with the ‘goyim’ than all the sermons ever preached by the Rabbis.”
So, here was the worst period in America for Jews, yet one of the most popular shows on radio was about Jews.
Today, when antisemitism seems to be at a low, there are only shows like Seinfeld, where we have to grasp at little straws of jewishness.
I guess my point is that there is not a relation between Jews on TV or Radio, and acceptance of Jews in America. If you take the two examples of Seinfeld and The Goldbergs, you can see that there may actually be an inverse relationship (I don’t really hope so.), and that Seinfeld may not be as significant an indicator of jewish acceptance in the US as he first appears.
I also recall an episode of the Dick Van Dyke show, written lovingly and somewhat autobiographically by Jewish actor, writer and director, Carl Reiner, where there were characters that were proudly Jewish. I recall one episode where Buddy, brilliantly portrayed by Morey Amsterdam, one of the comedy writers, was sneaking out in the afternoons. His coworkers thought he was having an affair, but in fact, he was sneaking out to see a rabbi about Torah lessons, so he could become a bar mitzvah. Now, that’s a character who is clearly Jewish and self-identifies.December 17, 2009 2:16 pm at 2:16 pm #670220
About Morey Amsterdam: Didn’t he have a real life bar mitzvah in his seventies?December 17, 2009 2:34 pm at 2:34 pm #670221
Oomis1105- for better or worse, there are actually lots of people like that in the real world, i.e., no frum dress, public school and college educations, partial observance of Shabbos, and no lobster, pork or meat and dairy together. Where and how I grew up, that was pretty common.December 17, 2009 4:41 pm at 4:41 pm #670222
I’m just including this here if the mods allow. There was a thread on the meeting with Obama, the professor and policeman. My comment was the one that seemed to have closed it. I was merely commenting on a previous comment that I though might have been intended to be offensive. I did not mean MINE to be, and hope no one understood it that way.
It was what was starting to come in after your post that closed it. -77December 17, 2009 9:04 pm at 9:04 pm #670223
One thing I will say is that just recently Donald Trump married off a daughter to a frum guy (she converted), and now I hear that Bill Clinton’s daughter is engaged to a Jewish guy. Without getting into the halachic issues, but I can’t help feeling a sense of I don’t know what, call it pride, if you wish, but the Jews have come a long way here. Years ago there were strict quotas in all the Ivy League schools to keep shlumpy looking, untidy Jews out, along with quotas on immigration to the USA, and now we are making shidduchim with all the big knockers here in this country. We are no longer viewed as black sheep.
However, there is the flip side of anti-semitism which is that even when the Jews do become culturally integrated, the reverse sometimes happens where the non-Jews say the Jews are too powerful and control everything, etc. When we have looked too poor we have run into trouble and when we have looked too rich we have run into trouble.
However, at this point in time we all must be grateful that at no other time in history have we had it so good both in the USA and in Israel.December 18, 2009 5:06 am at 5:06 am #670224
Errata: I stand corrected once again. According to one of the many fact-checkers I employ, Buddy Sorrell was sneaking out of the office to see a Cantor (Chazzan) and not a rabbi, to learn Torah cantillation, so he could become bar mitzvah.December 18, 2009 5:37 am at 5:37 am #670226YW Moderator-77Member
ronrsr: Where did your fact-checker get that? I’ve seen that episode numerous times and I was sure it was a rabbi, but I could certainly be wrong. (Wouldn’t be the first time.)December 18, 2009 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm #670227
To PY: do you feel that same sense of pride that JFK had and Al Gore has Jewish “eidim”? And didn’t Gracie Allen show excellent taste in choosing George Burns (or maybe not, from a story I heard).
It doesn’t send me that it’s hip to be Jewish.December 20, 2009 1:45 am at 1:45 am #670228
Tzippi, my wife had great taste when she chose me. And that is what matters. I have trouble understanding your wording sometimes, though.
BTW, just wanted to clarify that the Yiddish word knocker is an affectionate term for movers and shakers, i.e., the A-listers, famous people, people of authority, etc.December 20, 2009 2:35 am at 2:35 am #670229
to PY: just pointing out that a lot of famous people have Jewish sons in law, or intermarried themselves. Does it give you that kind of pride, or warm fuzzies, in every case?December 20, 2009 3:41 am at 3:41 am #670230
Tzippi, Look, it would be better religiously if these people converted, first. However, it does show that the Jews are a respectable and well-accepted group in the eyes of some of the very important people in the USA. I think that this shows that anti-semitism is not a significant factor in day to day life in the USA, at this point in time. I personally have not been the target of any in secular universities and workplaces.
I think you will see a great number of Jewish professors at all the prestigious universities, as well, which also indicates that the Jews are respected, as otherwise, why hire them.
But as before, we have to look out for reverse antisemitism which is espoused by people who complain that the Jews are too powerful, too successful, control the banks, the media, etc.December 20, 2009 4:46 am at 4:46 am #670231bein_hasdorimParticipant
Hi, have no time for details,check in rishonim & meforshim in Parshas Vayishlach,
when yaakov Avinu is bowing to Eisav, etc..Maasei Avos Siman Labonim.
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