Think Identity II

Think Identy

Re:  John Landau’s questions about strengthening Jewish educational formats in Israel and the US.

By Zvi Novenber

This is a hot issue.  Two articles in Friday’s “Makor Rishon” (14/7/2017) paper relate to Jewish education in Israel.  (See below)  I have no doubt that the staffs of Israeli schools of education at the universities and colleges like the David Yellen College in Jerusalem are immersed in this problem.   Also, there are many institutions such as Yad Ben Zvi, Szold, Bet Avi Chai, field schools, youth movements and community centers that offer extracurricular courses and activities; all of which reinforce Jewish identity.  Here in Israel we have a large number of impressive museums that focus on specific Diasporas or episodes in Jewish history.  I am particularly enthralled with the City of David initiative.

Naftali Bennett, representing religious Zionism, is the current Minister of Education.  The Ministry of Education contains an enormous bureaucracy that includes various pedagogical units and libraries.  The Ministry also produces a lot of teaching materials.

Yair Sheleg writing in “Makor Rishon” feels that there are not enough secular teachers who are prepared to teach traditional Jewish subjects.  Teachers with a religious background can remedy this but first have to disentangle themselves from their personal lives (i.e. keeping the mitzvoth) before they present traditional Judaism to their secular pupils.  Sheleg criticizes the orthodox Rabbinate for its lack of flexibility today as compared to Chief Rabbi Shlomo Goren 40 + years ago who emphasized just living in Israel as fundamental to forming an Israeli Jewish identity.  Sheleg thinks that instruction in Judaism is more important than teaching physics and chemistry as our identity depends on the former.

Also in “Makor Rishon”, Rabbi Chaim Navon lists ten points, all of which refute the accusation made by secular atheists that Israeli children undergo religious indoctrination.  Navon advocates giving much more freedom and flexibility to school principals and parent associations.  If and when a parent is dissatisfied with a particular approach he or she should be free to re-locate his children to another school more to his liking.

I don’t claim any expertise regarding Jewish education in America but I can suggest the following:  Jewish day schools could probably make better use of Chabad and other liberal rabbis and teachers who should refrain from preaching.  These teachers should specialize in answering questions about our beliefs and ritual and how they originated long ago.  Maximizing parent participation in every aspect of school life is essential and would be challenging and productive.  The communal celebration of ALL Jewish holidays is, in my opinion, crucial to developing strong positive attitudes to a living tradition.

There are probably hundreds of thousands of books dealing with every aspect of Judaism and Jewish history.  I suggest that a short list (8-15) of texts be designated as required reading for parents and older children.

The following books are important:

JOHN LENNON AND THE JEWS by Ze’ev Maghen

Answers the question of why be Jewish?

THE JEWISH BOOK OF WHY by Alfred J. Kolatch   1981

A useful guide to Jewish rituals, beliefs and holidays.

JEWS AGAINST THEMSELVES by Edward Alexander   2015

Tackles Jewish self-hate.  This book is very relevant today.

JEWISH HISTORICAL TREASURES by Azriel Eisenberg    1968

Each page (in chronological order) is dedicated to an important event, place or artifact in Jewish history.  This book really needs to be updated.

 

Sincerely,

Zvi  November                           15/7/2017

Re:  John Landau’s questions about strengthening Jewish educational formats in Israel and the US.

This is a hot issue.  Two articles in Friday’s “Makor Rishon” (14/7/2017) paper relate to Jewish education in Israel.  (See below)  I have no doubt that the staffs of Israeli schools of education at the universities and colleges like the David Yellen College in Jerusalem are immersed in this problem.   Also, there are many institutions such as Yad Ben Zvi, Szold, Bet Avi Chai, field schools, youth movements and community centers that offer extracurricular courses and activities; all of which reinforce Jewish identity.  Here in Israel we have a large number of impressive museums that focus on specific Diasporas or episodes in Jewish history.  I am particularly enthralled with the City of David initiative.

Naftali Bennett, representing religious Zionism, is the current Minister of Education.  The Ministry of Education contains an enormous bureaucracy that includes various pedagogical units and libraries.  The Ministry also produces a lot of teaching materials.

Yair Sheleg writing in “Makor Rishon” feels that there are not enough secular teachers who are prepared to teach traditional Jewish subjects.  Teachers with a religious background can remedy this but first have to disentangle themselves from their personal lives (i.e. keeping the mitzvoth) before they present traditional Judaism to their secular pupils.  Sheleg criticizes the orthodox Rabbinate for its lack of flexibility today as compared to Chief Rabbi Shlomo Goren 40 + years ago who emphasized just living in Israel as fundamental to forming an Israeli Jewish identity.  Sheleg thinks that instruction in Judaism is more important than teaching physics and chemistry as our identity depends on the former.

Also in “Makor Rishon”, Rabbi Chaim Navon lists ten points, all of which refute the accusation made by secular atheists that Israeli children undergo religious indoctrination.  Navon advocates giving much more freedom and flexibility to school principals and parent associations.  If and when a parent is dissatisfied with a particular approach he or she should be free to re-locate his children to another school more to his liking.

I don’t claim any expertise regarding Jewish education in America but I can suggest the following:  Jewish day schools could probably make better use of Chabad and other liberal rabbis and teachers who should refrain from preaching.  These teachers should specialize in answering questions about our beliefs and ritual and how they originated long ago.  Maximizing parent participation in every aspect of school life is essential and would be challenging and productive.  The communal celebration of ALL Jewish holidays is, in my opinion, crucial to developing strong positive attitudes to a living tradition.

There are probably hundreds of thousands of books dealing with every aspect of Judaism and Jewish history.  I suggest that a short list (8-15) of texts be designated as required reading for parents and older children.

The following books are important:

JOHN LENNON AND THE JEWS by Ze’ev Maghen

Answers the question of why be Jewish?

THE JEWISH BOOK OF WHY by Alfred J. Kolatch   1981

A useful guide to Jewish rituals, beliefs and holidays.

JEWS AGAINST THEMSELVES by Edward Alexander   2015

Tackles Jewish self-hate.  This book is very relevant today.

JEWISH HISTORICAL TREASURES by Azriel Eisenberg    1968

Each page (in chronological order) is dedicated to an important event, place or artifact in Jewish history.  This book really needs to be updated.

 

Sincerely,

Zvi  November                           15/7/2017

July 16, 2017 | 14 Comments » | 313 views

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14 Comments / 14 Comments

  1. I see that Torah is not on the short list. Without it, the other books are a complete waste of time.

  2. The Ministry of Education contains an enormous bureaucracy that includes various pedagogical units and libraries

    Public education is just another costly, inefficient, politically driven, government bureaucracy.

    It needs to be ABOLISHED.

  3. [Some believe that] instruction in Judaism is more important than teaching physics and chemistry ..

    This author apparently believes that the Government skoolz should emphasize hard-science instruction (as a close second to religious subjects).

    I wish he would explain why.

    I wonder what he studied.

  4. [A parent] should be free to re-locate his children to another school more to his liking.

    What this author probably means is relocation to another *government* (tax funded) skool.

    I doubt he would go along with a “hands-off”, [government] policy of letting parents choose to not send their kids to any school or assign any curriculum (i.e. ‘unschooling’).

    By the way, when education is 100% privatized parents will have the best possible breadth of school choice.

  5. @ Michael S:
    No, but seriously, I agree with you and here are some of my favorite passages:

    Deuteronomy 20

    “10 When you march up to attack a city, make its people an offer of peace. 11 If they accept and open their gates, all the people in it shall be subject to forced labor and shall work for you. 12 If they refuse to make peace and they engage you in battle, lay siege to that city. 13 When the Lord your God delivers it into your hand, put to the sword all the men in it. 14 As for the women, the children, the livestock and everything else in the city, you may take these as plunder for yourselves. And you may use the plunder the Lord your God gives you from your enemies. 15 This is how you are to treat all the cities that are at a distance from you and do not belong to the nations nearby.

    16 However, in the cities of the nations the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, do not leave alive anything that breathes. 17 Completely destroy[a] them—the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites—as the Lord your God has commanded you. 18 Otherwise, they will teach you to follow all the detestable things they do in worshiping their gods, and you will sin against the Lord your God.

    19 When you lay siege to a city for a long time, fighting against it to capture it, do not destroy its trees by putting an ax to them, because you can eat their fruit. Do not cut them down. Are the trees people, that you should besiege them?[b] 20 However, you may cut down trees that you know are not fruit trees and use them to build siege works until the city at war with you falls.”
    https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Deuteronomy+20

    Deuteronomy 25

    “17 Remember what the Amalekites did to you along the way when you came out of Egypt. 18 When you were weary and worn out, they met you on your journey and attacked all who were lagging behind; they had no fear of God. 19 When the Lord your God gives you rest from all the enemies around you in the land he is giving you to possess as an inheritance, you shall blot out the name of Amalek from under heaven. Do not forget!”

    https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Deuteronomy+25

    Numbers 33:55

    “”‘But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land, those you allow to remain will become barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides. They will give you trouble in the land where you will live.”

    The Talmud has some nice ones too.

    “Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Berakoth, 58a” If a man comes to kill you, rise early and kill him first.”
    http://www.come-and-hear.com/berakoth/berakoth_58.html

    And Maimonides

    “This notion, that displaying an attitude of mercy towards the wicked who deserve severe punishment involves acting cruelly towards the general public, can be found in the words of Maimonides in his book The Guide of the Perplexed.2 In reference to the verse (Exodus 21:14), “If a person willfully schemes to kill his neighbor – he shall be (even) taken from my altar and put to death”, Maimonides writes that

    the wicked and calculating person (who killed intentionally and was sentenced to death) – if he seeks sanctuary among us, we must not provide him with asylum and not have mercy upon him…because compassion towards the wicked – is cruelty to all beings”
    http://www.acpr.org.il/english-nativ/06-issue/shochetman-6.htm

    Psalm 137

    “Psalm 137
    1 By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept
    when we remembered Zion.
    2 There on the poplars
    we hung our harps,
    3 for there our captors asked us for songs,
    our tormentors demanded songs of joy;
    they said, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”
    4 How can we sing the songs of the Lord
    while in a foreign land?
    5 If I forget you, Jerusalem,
    may my right hand forget its skill.
    6 May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth
    if I do not remember you,
    if I do not consider Jerusalem
    my highest joy.
    7 Remember, Lord, what the Edomites did
    on the day Jerusalem fell.
    “Tear it down,” they cried,
    “tear it down to its foundations!”
    8 Daughter Babylon, doomed to destruction,
    happy is the one who repays you
    according to what you have done to us.
    9 Happy is the one who seizes your infants
    and dashes them against the rocks.”

    Genesis 9:6
    “Whoever sheds human blood, by humans shall their blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made mankind.”
    http://biblehub.com/genesis/9-6.htm

    But, those parts get skipped.

    The parts that get emphasized are mostly irrelevant and inane gibberish.

  6. @ Sebastien Zorn:

    Hi, Sebastien.

    You said the “WWII” comment wasn’t serious, so I’ll just let it slide. You just told me some of your favorite passages of scripture. Am I supposed to find a lowest common denominator? Let me try…

    Deuteronomy 20 was instructions about how to conduct warfare. It is unique for its time, I believe. Heathen nations, such as the Assyrians, seemed to have no limits to their behavior:

    “Who has not felt your endless cruelty?” (Nahum 3:19).

    Deuteronomy 29 is an instruction to avenge Amalek, from generation to generation.

    Numbers 33:55… which, together with your Talmudic reference, seems to justify pre-emptive strikes

    Exodus 21, coupled with Maimonides, justifies capital punishment for murder.

    The Psalm 137 passage seems to focus on:

    7 Remember, Lord, what the Edomites did
    on the day Jerusalem fell…

    That goes along with the curse against Amalek.

    Genesis 9:6, again, justifies capital punishment for murder.

    I would take issue with Tractate Berakoth, 58a; but otherwise, I go along with the scriptures. The Talmud is talking about killing someone first, who intends to kill you. That seems a little flaky: If Jacob had followed this advice, he would have tried to kill Esau, instead of making peace with him.

    The New Testament talks about wars. First of all, it predicts that we will have them, right up to the end of the age:

    Matthew 24:
    [6] And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.

    Secondly, it talks about the causes of wars: specifically about quarrels in the church, but it applies to all wars:

    James 4:
    [1] From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?
    [2] Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.
    [3] Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.

    We didn’t really enter WWII because the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, any more than we entered the Vietnam War because of a mythical second attack by North Vietnamese PT boats against a US destroyer. In both cased, our Presidents and generals had made up their minds long before these incidents occurred (or were purported to have occurred).

    I won’t take issue about WWII, because I wasn’t involved. Towards the end of the Vietnam War, I was personally forced to decide whether or not to take part; and I chose the latter. I acted legally, according to Army regulations; but I followed my conscience. I knew the NVNs and Viet Cong, as well as much of the people, saw us as invaders; so they justly sought to drive us out. Others disagreed with this judgment; but I didn’t think it was my quarrel.

    In Israel’s case, I see the Land as having been given them by God; and those who want to take it from them are fighting against God. Only a fool would want to fight against God.

  7. @ Michael S:
    Yes, it was a joke, I thought you were going to let it slide. No, we did enter WWII because of Pearl Harbor. Deuteronomy 20 says if your foreign enemies surrender, enslave them, if they don’t, kill the men and do enslave and exploit the women and children but in Canaan, kill everybody no matter what. And in other places like the conquest of Jordan, it says they did that there and in every city. Yes, capital punishment for murder all over the place which Israel only did with Eichmann. I’m only half serious here but you really don’t think Israel should pre-emptively take out terrorists???

    And, James is not part of the Torah last I checked.

    I find bible-thumping anachronistic and unnecessary. Since you mentioned the New Testament, what do you think about all that turn the other cheek nonsense that Jesus preached? Isn’t Israel doing a more than a little too much of that? And don’t plan for tomorrow, let God take care of it? Ha Ha. Boy, we’d all be dead, by now. I really do believe he spent the missing years of his life in India hanging out with Buddhist monks who lived by begging and state support. Perhaps abolish has something to say about them. Ha ha.

  8. @ Michael S:
    It’s annoying the way everybody reads into things what they want instead of reading them literally. People, as a general rule, say what they mean and mean what they say, comedians aside. But we were living in the bronze age. The Arabs don’t lie in Arabic.

    “…There were other hints shortly before Sadat’s visit to Jerusalem that he
    was planning a new strategy. On September 3, 1977 Foreign Minister
    Fahmi (whose later resignation suggests that even he was not aware of
    the dramatic form the strategy would assume) argued against another
    Arab summit meeting.
    “The world is opposed to Israel’s actions in the territory—our
    main aim must be to exploit intelligently this international
    attitude. We must differentiate between the possible and the
    impossible; we must address the world in its own language and
    go with it as far as we can go… We must besiege Israel and
    isolate it internationally … It is absolutely not in our interest to
    allow Israel to escape from this impasse. We could raise issues
    which we know, without even thinking about it, that the world
    atmosphere is not prepared for—issues which would provide
    Israel with new arguments to convince sections of world public
    opinion that throughout the history of the conflict the Arabs
    have thought only about the destruction and elimination of
    Israel … Briefly it is not right…to allow Israel to escape the grip
    12
    of world society by raising ideas which would make the world
    forget Israeli extremism by pointing to what it might imagine to
    be Arab extremism …We must not take steps unless we are
    sure they bring us closer to our goal.13
    That the goal had not changed, merely the desirable method of achieving
    it, was emphasized by Sadat once again in September 1977, only weeks
    before his visit to Jerusalem.
    “The October War was only the spark that set off the conflict—a
    conflict that is as old as the Arab nation. This conflict started
    when we fought against the Tatars, and later, the Crusaders, in
    defense of our rights, land and honor. Today we are fighting
    against Zionism in defense of our land and values … Now after
    the October War we should never look back. In fact this
    struggle is not just a military conflict; it is a military, economic
    and political conflict. They are all links in the same chain.
    Therefore we must prepare ourselves for a prolonged conflict
    and all its relevant aspects.”14”

    and a little earlier in the passage:

    “…Sadat has made it clear to his “internal”
    audience, i.e., those who read Arabic, that he is engaged in what is for the
    Arabs a new strategy to win the traditional Arab goal of Israel’s
    destruction. In a section of his memoirs published in October on
    September 11, 1977, two months before the peace initiative, Sadat wrote:
    “Al Qaddafi has chosen to make the same terrible mistake
    that Arabs committed several years ago when they rejected
    everything and anything—when the Arabs turned the word `no’
    into an idol which they worshipped, burned incense around,
    and in the process, burned all their bridges and were halted …
    all this because the Arabs pinned the fate of the Arab nation
    and three of its generations to the word ‘no.’ In the field of
    politics, just as in the field of sports, the best player is not the
    one who kicks the ball out of the playground every time he gets
    it. This is escapism; he prefers to escape from the situation
    rather than take the ball, maneuver it through his opponents
    and then score a goal.”11
    Notice Sadat makes no objection to Qaddafi’s goal, repeatedly trumpeted
    as the annihilation of Israel, but to the methods by which the goal
    has been pursued. On the contrary, in the same passage Sadat goes on to
    say that he tries to avoid getting involved in minor and peripheral battles
    precisely because the coming war with the Jews should be the only thing
    that preoccupies him, and he is unwilling to become distracted “from this
    confrontation which will be much more violent than the October War.”12

    http://www.afsi.org/pamphlets/SadatsStrategy_Eidelberg%5B1%5D.pdf

    So what is this willfully blind nonsense about practical proposals to make the Arabs lives easier. Ha Ha. They don’t care about any of that. They see us for what we are but we don’t see them for what they are. We are behaving like fools.

    “You have the advantage of me, sir.”

  9. @ Michael S:
    I might add that as in Deuteronomy 20, in Deuteronomy 25 it’s clearly not the “who” but the “why” that’s important as the justification for genocide: “When you were weary and worn out, they met you on your journey and attacked all who were lagging behind; they had no fear of God. ”

    If we followed what it says, for real, it’s really clear what we would do with these creatures.

    That’s the way people were 3, 4 thousand years ago. Everybody. We just wrote it down.

    The Muslims are still like that. They are like willful throwbacks to some earlier form of hominid. They belong in a zoo. Caged and sterilized so they don’t breed in there.

  10. Come to think of it, The British showed good sense during the Opium Wars. If the Muslims all just sat around every day hooked on opium doing nothing, the problem would eventually solve itself. Their violence would evaporate overnight. Unlike Judaism and Christianity, Islam has no internal motor for change. And something has to give and to go. If not it then them.

  11. @ Michael S:
    And you didn’t mention the ending of Psalm 137 — talk about collective punishment! this was officially canonized — but nobody quotes it. Because everybody skips around, I bet most Jews and Christians don’t even know it’s there. When it’s set to music the last couple of lines are replaced with a prayer to God.

    Muslims read passages like this in their writings literally. It’s a crime in Muslim law not to. Punishable by death. They also use what they call the principle of “abrogation” to put the later writings first. That’s when Mohammed revealed himself as a psychopath.

    Also, Judaism warns against worshiping human leaders, that’s why there are derogatorty stories about Moses, Saul, Solomon, David.

    In Islam, the Psycho Mohammed is put out as the “perfect man” to be emulated. It’s as though a whole society were patterned after the personality of Charles Manson.

  12. @ Michael S:

    Re: “Tora, Tora, Tora” (1970)
    Though it’s true that Japanese and Jews have a lot in common in addition to the J in the beginning of our names.

    The oldest Jewish prayer is the standing prayer, the Amidah. The Japanese Buddha of Compassion (orig. Amitabah) is Amida Buddah and they stand and chant “Namu Amida Butsu”.

    First month of the Jewish calendar is Nissan. Which is followed by the months of Toyota, Lexus, Honda, Mitsubishi and Suzuki.

    Lox and Sashimi look so similar because their points of origin are very close together. Lox comes from Murray’s and Sashimi comes from Ollie’s which is only two doors down. The tectonic points of the world converge as one heads South and ten blocks down they come together at Zabar’s Deli. On the same shelf. Right before the egg salad. That’s the American Jewish contribution. In Russia we had Steppes. Here we have Shelves.

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