Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Do You Represent All Jews

This was a 600 word rant that I just nuked because it wasn't flowing the way I wanted it to, so I started over. The question I posed in the title is Do you represent all Jews also known as do non-Jews make their evaluation/judgement of who Jews are based upon their experience with you.

It is an old discussion and one that in general I find to be very distasteful. There is something very wrong about basing an opinion about a group of people based upon the behavior of one person.

For example, it is wrong to judge all Black people based upon your opinion of Michael Jordan or for that matter Michael Jackson. I wouldn't do it and I am teaching my children to develop their thoughts/feelings/opinion about people based upon the person and not some shallow observation.

Yet it seems that all too frequently I have been engaged in a discussion by fellow MOTs about our responsibility to show the world who we are and what we are like. That if we act poorly, if we do not serve as a good dugma we are hurting other Jews.

It just irks me to no end. I'd say that I hate it but that is far too strong a word so I am not going to use it, but it gives a sense of just how distasteful I find this to be.

And now my sad confession. If I am reading the newspaper or listening to the news and I hear/read a Jewish sounding name I take an extra moment to find out what the story is. If the person that they speak of is a suspect or has been convicted of a crime I cross my fingers and hope that I find out that I am mistaken and that they are not a M.O.T. And of course if it is something cool than I want to hear that they are part of the tribe.

It is a bit of a contradiction, but that is part of being human, the desire to pick and choose, the will to take the good and eliminate the bad.

In a utopian society this dialogue wouldn't exist because we would not judge each other based upon anything but the merit/actions of the individual. Even though we do not live in that world now, there is no reason that we cannot work towards it.

We do not plant trees for ourselves, but for our children, grandchildren and the people that come after us.

(Cross posted on Jack's Shack)


Stacey said...

"There is something very wrong about basing an opinion about a group of people based upon the behavior of one person"

Yes, it is wrong but it happens all the time.

I am the only Jew in my office of 150 people and I know that I am watched closely and with much curiosity by the many people I work with who have never met a Jew. And I know that their opinion of Jews will be based on me so I definitely take that into consideration. I know that besides representing myself I am representing Judaism.

And I also linger longer on stories that involve Jews. But I think that's ok. It would stand to reason that a person would have more interest in things with whcih they identify.

Unknown said...

I feel the same as you do Jack but, like Stacey, in most situations, I am the only Jew in the zip code and the only one (scary isn't it?) a lot of people meet in their lifetime around these parts. I hate the responsibility. I hate that ways I reacted before I converted were okay but now they are looked upon with a birds eye...that's what those JEWS do.

I hate it.

Anonymous said...

Nowadays, I like to think I'm a person, and as a representative of the human race, I really should behave myself. For one thing, the mice and dolphins will be reporting back on me.

CJ Srullowitz said...

Your analogy to blacks, lulei demistafina, does not hold water. Being black does not say anything about your behavior; being Jewish does. A Jew, by definition, is a person charged with certain behavioral responsibilities, to be a light unto the nations. Certain Jews may not see it that way--believing that Judaism is a race or a culture--but the Goyim do.

Jack Steiner said...

Being Black should not say anything about your behavior, but the reality is that some people expect you to behave a certain way just because of it.

PsychoToddler said...

That's just the way it is, Jack. You don't have to like it or want it. You just have to acknowledge it.

Mirty--good Douglas Adams reference!

Jack Steiner said...

But PT, why do we have to accept it. Why not try to do something about it?

Safranit said...

See my post regarding the catskills for a similar view...