Bad Jews, good news

Joseph Aaron

All hail Ally Raisman and Robert Luck.

I don’t know if it’s that I’m getting older or Jews are getting worser, but it seems to me that never have so many Jews let us down so much.

Oh sure, we’ve always had Jews who disappointed us, brought shandah, shame, down upon us, but for every Jew not good for the Jews, we always seemed to have so many Jews very good for the Jews, Jonas Salk and Sandy Koufax, Steven Spielberg and Milton Friedman. And so many more.

It seems to me that these days, things have flipped. with way many more Jews bringing dishonor to our people than being a source of pride for our people. Les Moonves, powerful head of CBS, TV genius and big time pervert, one of many Jewish perverts to have been unveiled in the last year, starting with the perviest of them all, Harvey Weinstein. Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook who have been shown to have lied to so many of us over the years, invaded the rights and privacy of so many of us, knew about and did nothing to stop Russian perversion of our election because nothing could be allowed to get in the way of them making gobs and gobs of money.

Longtime readers of what I have to say know that I am a big believer that prominent Jews have a special responsibility to act as a Jew should because they in a very real way, represent us all and represent what Judaism is all about. Which is why I was so thrilled by the words and actions of Ally Raisman and Robert Luck.

Raisman, the Olympic gymnast, recently said that a letter from a Holocaust survivor helped her realize that when she performed, she was not only representing the United States. “I had no idea how much of an impact it would have on the Jewish community,” she said of her 2012 gold medal-winning routine, which included the music of “Hava Nagila,” the Jewish folk song.

“I didn’t realize at the time I was representing not only the United States but the Jewish community,” Raisman said. “I received a letter from a Holocaust survivor saying she never imagined in her life seeing a young girl performing to ‘Hava Nagila’ in front of the world and see her win for it.”

The reality that she represents the Jewish people has guided her ever since, she said. It’s one of the reasons she became a face of the #MeToo movement in the wake of her testimony against Larry Nassar, the former U.S. Olympics gymnastics team physician.

Raisman is a Jew we can proud of. Another such Jew is Robert Luck, a judge in Miami who was recently named to the Florida Supreme Court. He made a point of having his appointment be announced at the Jewish day school where he attended kindergarten, and where his children are students.

Florida’s new governor, Ron DeSantis, was on hand for the announcement, which featured a large Israeli flag displayed behind the lectern. After the announcement, Luck recited a blessing from the Amidah prayer: “You grace humans with wisdom and teach humanity perception. Bestow upon us Your knowledge, insight and understanding. Blessed are you the grantor of wisdom.”

What a nice story. It feels good to see a Jew do us proud for a change, a Jew showing the best of his heritage for a change.

Unlike so many others. For example, we just learned that self-proclaimed super Jew former Sen. Joseph Lieberman is now working for a Chinese company he once criticized. In 2010, Lieberman fretted that the Chinese telecommunications giant ZTE might be spying on Americans. Nearly a decade later, Lieberman is working for ZTE to see how the company can spin the kind of concerns raised by the then-senator.

Back then, Lieberman, who liked to make out that he was more moral than your average politician because of his Jewish faith, expressed concern that ZTE was “being financed by the Chinese government and is potentially subject to significant influence by the Chinese military which may create an opportunity for manipulation of switches, routers, or software embedded in American telecommunications network so that communications can be disrupted, intercepted, tampered with, or purposely misrouted.”

But now we just learned that Lieberman, who works for the law firm of Mark Kasowitz, a Jew and Trump’s longtime lawyer who was revealed to have threatened people in drunken tirades, has registered as a lobbyist for, you guessed it, ZTE. Another Jew, supposedly a religious and oh so ethical one, selling his soul.

Which, of course, reminds me of the utterly shameless Jewess Ivanka Trump, who along with her husband Jared Kushner, seem to be today’s major suppliers of shanda. The latest dose came when we learned that Ivanka, who has an extremely high opinion of herself even though she has accomplished nothing but be born to a very rich daddy, will assist Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, another Jewish doozy, in choosing the new head of the World Bank.

Tell me, please, what qualifies her to help pick the person who will hold such an important position. But that ain’t all. Get this. Seems that Trump is actually considering appointing Ivanka herself to the position. Yep, that’s right, Ivanka as president of the World Bank.  Look, love Trump all you want, adore him for moving the embassy and killing the Iran deal, ignore that he is pulling American troops out of Syria, Israel’s neighbor, thus allowing Iran to  have forces on Israel’s doorstep, Ivanka helping to choose or maybe even being chosen to hold one of the most important jobs in the world, is really bringing us to meshugga territory.

And speaking of rich Jews acting poorly, we just learned that one of the biggest machers of all, Michael Steinhardt, is one of the donors to Hillel International found to have engaged in sexual harassment of Hillel staff members.

After a six month investigation, Hillel issued a statement to its staff noting that “In each case, it was found that the complaints were justified, and that the individuals had been subjected to inappropriate comments and/or suggestions by one or more of our donors/”

One of those donors being billionaire philanthropist Steinhardt who was found to have made inappropriate sexual remarks to two female employees. Steinhardt has donated millions of dollars to Hillel and is a co-founder of Birthright Israel.

I could keep going, but I want to stop to yet again point out that while inside the Jewish world we continue to have so many acting so disgracefully, outside the Jewish world we continue to see so much love for the Jewish people, so much caring for the Jewish people.

Funny, crazy thing is that Jews more and more today think the world is out  to get us, that anti-Semitism is out of control, that everybody hates Israel, when in fact the Jewish people, the Jewish state, have never been treated better, been more respected, been more appreciated.

It is the major Jewish sickness of our time that we fail to recognize how much good there is out there for us, that we so much exaggerate the little bad there is out there for us, that we totally ignore all the rot within us. And so I like, from time to time, to point out some of the ways the world is doing us right.

Here are two recent examples. The European Union has awarded close to $1 million to a project that aims to map and survey at least 1,500 Jewish cemeteries in the continent’s east. The European Jewish Cemeteries Initiative, or ESJF, established in 2015 with a German government grant, has helped protect over 120 Jewish cemeteries in seven Central and Eastern European countries.

The mapping process, to be undertaken using state-of-the-art technology specially designed for the project, involves engineering drones surveying and photographing the sites from the air, following an in-depth historical research process of centuries–old records across many countries and languages, ESJF said. Eastern and Central Europe has well over 10,000 Jewish cemeteries in various degrees of risk. And the European Union is helping to rescue and preserve those Jewish cemeteries.

And then we have a story that is both tragic and heartwarming.

A student at the Hebrew Academy of Miami died in a fall from the ninth story of his high-rise condominium building. Samuel Farkas of Miami Beach was locked out of his family’s ninth-floor condo and was trying to climb down the balcony from the floor above when he lost his grip and fell to his death. His 16th birthday would have been the next day.

Police Chaplain Rabbi Mark Rosenberg said that the teen’s kippah was found in the pocket of his shorts. Rosenberg said it is likely he put it there so it would not fall during his balcony-to-balcony climb. The teen’s father posted an article about the accident on Facebook writing “A part of me is gone and will never be back. The anguish and suffering I feel is beyond words. He was a special kid with tremendous love and happiness and I will miss him every second of the rest of my life.”

A player for the Miami Heat basketball team took it upon himself to honor Farkas. Justise Winslow wrote “RIP Sammy Farkas” on his black shoes in white marker for a home game against the Boston Celtics.

A small gesture, but a meaningful one, one that brought the tragedy of Farkas’ death to public attention, was a way for the community to remember the loss of this young Jewish life.

While we freak out every time some nut paints a swastika on something, we fail to kvell the many times when people like that basketball player did what he did. Just one of the many things, big and small, done each day by the world, by so many in so many places, in respect for, in support of Jews, the Jewish people, Judaism and the Jewish world.

We way too often too much feel bad about things. We need to start noticing all the good there is out there for us, and smile.

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