Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Holocaust Jews and Israel Jews

I was recently in a situation where some frum and non-frum Jews were together (this is not the blogworthy part of the story). Everyone, in this case, is fairly comfortable with one another and jokes are cracked all the time. At some point during this get-together, one of the frum guys made an obviously joking comment towards one of the non-frum guys - something about how he's not really that Jewish. I'm not here to lambast or condone the comments; rather, just to comment on the reaction. The two parties involved had known each other for a couple years and had become comfortable with each other, so when the non-frum party involved freaked out and starting ranting and raving about himself that his ancestors were in the Holocaust and now look at him - he doesn't do anything Jewish, etc etc, I was taken aback. Yes, he had just pulled out the Holocaust card - but why?

Being Jewish, we feel an obvious connection to the events that took place in the Holocaust. This should obviously be something that we never forget, and it should affect our lives on some level. On a seemingly unrelated side note: all Jews try to make a connection to their Yiddishkeit in some way. For some, it's through song; for others, through learning; some others, through Tikkun Olam, and onward. I would say that frum Jews have a built in connection with their Yiddishkeit; namely, Torah and mitzvos. Reform and Conservative Jews also seek out a connection with their Yiddiskeit. But since they don't have the built in connection in Torah and Mitzvos, I believe a lot of non-frum Jews make their connection the Holocaust (hence part of the title: Holocaust Jews). While these Jews may not have a day-to-day connection as non-practicing Jews, the Holocaust is something so fundamentally Jewish that even non-practicing Jews associate themselves with it.

It makes a lot of sense that in the aforementioned situation the guy pulled the "Holocaust card". The person making the joke was not even getting close to anything related to the Holocaust, yet, because this is his only connection with Yiddishkeit, he applied it in a situation where it wasn't warranted. I would imagine Judaism would be a pretty depressing religion if my only connection was the Holocaust.

On a similar vein, it is interesting to note that most Reform and Conservative Jews are pro-Israel. While this may be a generalization, I think that, for the most part, it is true. Same thinking: because they don't seek out a connection through Torah and Mitzvos, they look other places for this connection - and for a lot of them, Israel is their connection to Judaism. I, in no way, want to say that being pro-Israel is anti-orthodox; but it is interesting to note that the largest divide between pro-Israel and anti-Israel within one denomination is by orthodoxy. For some, being orthodox and being Tzioni go hand-in-hand; for others, however, their connection by means of Torah and mitzvos suffices.

In my opinion, remembering the Holocaust and being pro-Israel (I am not here to argue this point) are integral parts of my connection to Judaism. Of course everyone has to find their niche within Judaism and connect to it however they can. The problem is when people make the Holocaust and Israel their ONLY connection to their Judaism.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You make a great point. This is part of the overall problem with certain (and I emphasize CERTAIN) zionist factions. They view their connection to Israel as the be all / end all of Judiasm and fail to recognize that aside from Eretz Yisroel (which is definately a central focus of being jewish) the Torah is what really guides us.

11:41 AM, June 21, 2006

Blogger Danny the Manny said...

If God had let us survive the Holocaust, but hadn't brought us to Israel in '48, Dayeinu. If God had brought us to Israel in '48, but hadn't produced this blog, Dayeinu.

11:46 AM, June 21, 2006

Blogger AlanLaz said...

Good point Anon (although, being Anonymous is boring). I feel like there are certain people in Israel that are more worried about the fact that their bretheren in Chul aren't making aliyah than they are regarding issues of Chinuch, econonics, etc.

11:52 AM, June 21, 2006

Anonymous alan said...

This seems a little patronizing for the "non-frum" Jews you're diagnosing with armchair psychoanalysis. Let them speak for themselves.

12:27 AM, July 11, 2006


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