If only Jewish Democratic leaders had an Iota of Pride in Being Jewish as they have for the gay community.
Pride is a bit of a confusing word. It has different meanings and is understood and used by people in peculiar ways.
The Merriam Webster Dictionary, defines “pride” as: 1) “inordinate self-esteem : conceit” or maybe something more modest like 2) “a reasonable or justifiable self-respect” or yet a more refined 3) “delight or elation arising from some act, possession, or relationship.”
Consider these definitions in reviewing pride of being Jewish and/or gay.
Pride in Judaism
Judaism frowns upon pride when it means conceit or arrogance.
The greatest prophet in Judaism was Moses, who was described as humble in the bible: “Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.” (Numbers 12:3). It is a trait that rabbis preach for Jews to emulate to this day.
Humility is the opposite of pride. The rabbis take issue with pride that is associated with conceit and arrogance. However, they have no issues with pride that relates to reasonable self-respect or elation. Leaders in the Jewish community can often be found discussing their appreciation for the value system embedded in Judaism. It is not meant as boastful, as much as a sense of deep admiration.
Pride in the Gay Community
The gay community has used the word pride in its own way. The gay pride parades that happen in cities around the world are not meant as a show of conceit. They are expressions of a community that was shunned for years, that is now declaring publicly that they have no shame in their actions and will no longer hide. It is not an arrogance, but a public affirmation of themselves.
Israelis and American Jews have their own approaches to pride as it relates to being Jewish and/or gay.
Israeli Pride – Being Jewish; Being Gay
Israelis have not been shy about their accomplishments. They are boastful of their “Start-up Nation” that is a technological marvel, that turned a desert into a flowering democracy. One blogger actually listed 66 different companies which made her “proud to be an Israeli.” Is this conceit? Is it a justifiable self-respect? An elation arising from various acts? Probably all of the above.
The Jews in Israel also reflect on their being Jewish. In a March 2016 Pew Research poll, 93% of Israeli Jews said they were proud to be Jewish. The majority of Jews also stated that their being Jewish was a matter of ancestry- something in which they had no control. That implies that the majority of Israeli Jews – regardless of the level of religious observance – felt pride in something in which they had no active involvement.
Israelis also displayed support of gay pride, one of the only countries in the entire MENA (Middle East and North Africa) that holds a gay pride parade. (In contrast, it is a capital offense to commit a homosexual act in many countries in MENA, including Iran and Saudi Arabia.). Beyond annual parades, the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that he was “proud” to welcome the first openly-gay Likud Member of Knesset.
The parade in the Israeli capital of Jerusalem was attended by thousands in July 2016. The mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat said “I hope, with all my heart, that we come together, on this day, against every manifestation of incitement, hatred, and violence, and that we unite around the right of every individual and community to exercise their freedom of expression, regardless of gender, race, or religion.” This was not arrogance. It was affirmation.
US Pride – Being Gay; Being Jewish
Democratic leaders have for years championed the rights of the LGBT community. The cause of same-sex marriage was almost exclusively fought by left-wing activists and politicians for decades. When the courts ruled on the legality of same-sex marriages, Democratic President Barack Obama, and many Jewish Democrats celebrated.
The Jewish Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders claims to have always been a proud supporter of gay rights, even going back to the 1970s.
The head of the Democratic party, Deborah Wasserman Schultz (who is Jewish), also celebrated same-sex becoming recognized in Florida with a statement “Today, we proudly turn the page on marriage discrimination and look toward a future that is more loving and closer to our ideals as a state.”
Are these Jewish Democratic leaders also proud about their own Judaism? Not so much.
In January 2016, Bernie Sanders effectively punted on his religion. Consider this exchange on the Jimmy Kimmel show:
“You say you’re culturally Jewish, you don’t feel religious,” Kimmel told Sanders. “Do you believe in God, and do you think that’s important to the people of the United States?”
Sanders didn’t skip a beat. In fact, he didn’t even let Kimmel finish the question before jumping in.
“Well, you know, I am who I am,” he replied. “And what I believe in and what my spirituality is about is that we’re all in this together. That I think it is not a good thing to believe that, as human beings, we can turn our backs on the suffering of other people,” he continued, as the crowd applauded and cheered so loudly he had to pause.
“And you know, this is not Judaism. This is what Pope Francis is talking about, that we cannot worship just billionaires and the making of more and more money. Life is more than that.”
Members of the DNC knew that Sanders dodged the question, and in their effort to discredit him and boost Secretary Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primaries, they used his lack of positive Jewish affirmation against him.
In July 2016, several emails from the DNC came to the public light. The DNC commented that Sanders seemed to skirt around his being Jewish and that he only associated with being Jewish as it related to the Holocaust. Here is an exchange on that point:
One email from DNC chief financial officer Brad Marshall read: “It might may no difference, but for KY and WVA can we get someone to ask his belief. Does he believe in a God. He had skated on saying he has a Jewish heritage. I think I read he is an atheist. This could make several points difference with my peeps. My Southern Baptist peeps would draw a big difference between a Jew and an atheist.”
Marshall added in a later email: “It’s these Jesus thing.”
In response, CEO Amy Dacey said: “Amen.”
The head of the Democratic National Committee, a Jew, decided to trash another Jewish leader, over the extent of his affirmation and pride in being a Jew. On the national stage. With the US presidency on the line.
Democratic leaders trip over themselves to show their affinity to the LGBT community that they aren’t even part of. Yet they distance themselves from the very community to which they were born.
The New Liberal Definition of a Jew
The Pew Research showed an interesting divide between Israeli Jews and American Jews. In particular, it found that 57% of American Jews found “working for justice and equality” as an essential part of being Jewish, while only 27% of Israeli Jews thought that it was “essential.”
That is why Bernie Sanders can talk about Pope Francis when asked about his own religion. Sanders doesn’t feel pride in his ancestry or religion; he feels pride in fighting for social justice and equality. He may have been born a Jew, but his religion is liberalism.
That is the mantra of the leading Jews in the Democratic party. Their non-Jewish colleagues can only learn about Judaism from them. Judaism is not so actually a religion with 613 commandments; it’s essence is social justice. It is not a religion of 14 million members; it is a global mission in which everyone is part. It is not tribal nor particular; it is open and universal.
That is absurd.
No liberal would say that there is no such thing as an LGBT community. Then why do they feel no compunction at dismissing a religion as simply a set of liberal values. Is that the only part of Judaism that makes them proud to be a Jew? Or are they not proud of Judaism at all?
Perhaps the leading Jewish members of the Democratic party can seek some guidance from Lord Jonathan Sachs of Great Britain. He made an easy to watch video available for all to see that doesn’t need to be hacked to unveil the truth. “Why I am Proud to be a Jew.”
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