Yes! Yes! Call me a Jew!
By Rabbi Ben Kamin
SAN DIEGO — Somebody wrote me a nasty letter recently after something I circulated in this publication.
“You wrote that because you’re a Jew,” spouted my critic. To this branding, I say, thank you! Thank you!
Thank you for attributing to me the greatest possible ethnic compliment. Call me a Jew, and I shall be satisfied and grateful. I am so proud to be of a lineage and a people who have survived and even transcended the greatest and most unrelenting challenges ever known to any cultural group in the history of human life.
We parented Christianity and Islam; the church and the mosque are the edifice-cousins of the synagogue.
We survived Hitler, and we will survive Bin Laden and that crazy fellow in Iran. We lit the lights of Chanukah and outshone Greek Hellenism. We wrote the texts of Rabbinic Judaism and outwitted the Roman Empire. I find old Roman pottery along the beaches of a free Israel; we have a history and a future.
\We made Judaism portable and sprung from the clutches of the Inquisition of Spain, the pogroms of Russia and Poland, the massacres of England, the genocides of Germany, France, Latvia, and the Pale.
We sent a magic carpet to Yemen, a caravan of relief to the Arab lands, prayer books and matzohs to the Soviet Union.
Out of proportion to our numbers, we marched with M.L. King, because we were the first to leave the bondage of Egypt. Our Passover Seder remains the international meal of freedom.
On July 4, 1976, we sent the Star of David to rescue hostages in Entebbe and we now send the stars of our American Jewish youth to every university and into every corporate hall in this country and we send our bright and ambitious former youth group presidents to the Congress and—if a Jew had been counting—we would have sent a Jew to the vice-presidency of the United States in 2001.
Call me a Jew. I like living in a people who see wrong and try to right it, see trouble and figure out how to relieve it, see life and choose to live it.
Kamin is a freelance writer based in San Diego