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Message from the Mayor

Friday, 25 February, 2011 - 1:11 am

Today, as an exception, I'd like to share with you an important message from the mayor of Newark, NJ, Mr. Cory Booker.


Comments on: Message from the Mayor

Mark Milotay wrote...

What a great vort! It also shows how Chabad shows the beauty of Judaism well beyond the Jewish community. This was a beautiful thing to watch this morning.

Matthew wrote...


Inna wrote...

If only the rest of the world understood this as clearly as this honourable man, there would be NO anti-semitism and the whole world would be a beautiful place.

Morah Feygah wrote...

Thanks Rabbi! I tweeted this one :-)

Poonam wrote...

I, as a proud tribalist-Zionist find this whole disucssion rather bizarre. The vast majority of people in the world love their country and culture and have no desire to see them trampelled on, even if they are tolerant of having minority groups live among them. Preference for people of your own culture and values is natural, just like people put their own family above others.Some points(1) I vehemently reject the idea that Israel is Racist . Drawing distinctions between people is NOT racism . For example Puerto Ricans are US citizens but have no vote for President nor representation in Congress. Residents of Washington DC only got the vote for President in 1960 but still have no representation in Congress. Yes, Israel does give some preferences to Jews in certain areas but this is NO DIFFERENT than the affirmative action that the majority blacks in South Africa give themselves at the expense of the whites, both of which are done in order to compensate for oppression and discrimination faced by both in the past. To compare Israel to Jim Crow is preposterous.As I have pointed out, the Palestinian Authority and the other Arab states in the Middle East give preferntial status to Arab culture and language and to the Muslim religion. If Israel is racist , then so are the Palestinans, and so is Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, etc, etc.(2) Seth and Eric Yoffie both miss an important point in pointing out the desire of Jews to have expression in a nation-state context. It is not only a shared memory of antisemitsm (I will address this more fully later) nor a racist desire to live among one's own kind (is that indeed racist ?) but because Jews ARE BEARERS OF A UNIQUE CULTURE AND RELIGIOUS SYSTEM. Those who have studied Judaism in depth are well aware that this system has a very definite national public component. This includes Shabbat and holidays in which there are restrictions in one's activities, special food requirements, a unique language, committments to public activities such as prayer in synagogue, etc. During the 2000 years of the EXILE these aspects of Judaism were severly curtailed due to outside pressure from the non-Jewish environment. It is not necessary to look to antisemitism for the cause of these difficulties, it can be dfficult outside Israel to find employment if one is Sabbath observant or it can be difficult wfinding time off around the Jewish holidays. A Jew who is religiously observant may find it difficult to obtain kosher food outside Israel. It can be expensive and difficult to provide for Jewish education for one's children outside Israel. The feeling among Israeli Jews of the importance of preserving Jewish culture, religion and values explains a fact that non-Orthodox Jews outside of Israel don't understand why the secular majority in Israel accepts the existence of the official Orthodox Chief Rabbinate which controls personal status in the country. In addition, Israel has kept the Hebrew language alive for people far beyond the small, scholarly elite that it was restricted to for such a long time.(3) Regarding antisemitism and those who think it is the prime reason for the Jews support for Zionism, it is not merely some historical footnote that is rapidly being forgotten as Seth implies. The sociological structure of Israel society is very different than that of American Jewry. Israeli family structure is much stronger and vibrant than that of American Jewry. This manifests itself in much closer ties between the generations and a much higher birthrate (Israel is the only country in the world where the Jewish population is growing). Thus, the historical memory of what happened to the Jewish people in the first half of the 20th century, both in the Jewish communities of Europe AND in the Muslim Middle East in addition to east Africa (Ethiopia) is far, far sharper and alive in Israel than it is among American Jews. Add to that the struggle and sacrifices made to create and maintain Israel in the face of the unremitting Arab violence that has been going on for almost 100 years in an organized fashion. To go to an Israeli, even a Leftist who supports the peace process' who has fought in several wars and has lost friends and relatives to wars and Arab terrorism and to say to him that he is a racist' according to some bizarre progressive ideology because he fought for his country and wants it to continue in its Zionist form, is not only insensitive, but outright insulting, especially since this racist charge is NOT made by progressives to other peoples and nations who are actually racist and repressive. Add to this the genteel antisemitism of so-called liberals in places like Europe or New Zealand who are trying to ban kosher slaughter, or ban brit milah (circumcision) supposedly on humanitarian grounds, and we see the ugly head of antisemitism is still with us, so the assumption that it is a thing of the past is woefully uninformed and lacking historical conciousness.As you saw at the beginning of my comments, I am not afraid of being called a tribalist or any other epithets so-called progressives want to throw at people like us. I do not accept the post-Modernist progressive value system, neither do most people in the world so it is time for those who do to open their minds and try to see things the way other people do and not get lost in a miasma of ideological blindness.