March 17, 2006

Jacksons of Judaism

Even on a cloudy and unseasonably cold day, it’s always a thrill to be back in Israel. Especially Jerusalem on a Friday. The best schmaltz herring, smoked delicacies, pickles and nuts can be found in the Haredi streets of Geulah, where I snake my way through jostling crowds for whom the post-Jericho-jailbreak terror alert takes a very low priority compared with the urgent need to prepare for the Sabbath. The unbounded zeal of Friday shoppers and vendors would make you think it happened just once a year instead of every week. Such is the magic of Shabbat amongst our people.

Things are a little different in Geulah this time, with the streets littered with thousands of election leaflets. These ones are for the religious Sephardic party, Shas. However, on my way back through town I am appalled to witness Israeli youngsters campaigning for Arab candidates of the Chadash party. As if it were not bad enough that our government signs away our homeland, must our youth help to vote away our nation’s sovereignty in the Knesset?

I don’t blame the kids. I blame their secular university professors who measure their ‘street-cred’ in academia by the level of contempt they hold for their own people and heritage. I call these the Michael Jacksons of Judaism, who will go to any lengths – even to grossly disfigure themselves – just to disguise the identity of their birth.

That is the true ugliness of self-hate.

I make a stop in Rechavia to drop in on an elderly aunt and uncle, to wish them Shabbat Shalom. But I put too much money in the parking ticket machine. I press the cancel button, but nothing happens and no money comes out. My young son tries some other buttons on the machine, but I say: “Forget it Elliott. Israel is not a place that gives back money.”

“Only land” he mutters.


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