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Jewish Child Abuse

By Tzvi Fishman
4/20/2007, 12:00 AM


Let’s face it, in America, France, Italy, Japan, or South Africa, how long would an Israeli flag last sticking out the window of a car before it was ripped off and cast to the wind?

Please be advised that I am not writing this blog for my daily choir of detractors. They have fortified themselves with such a doctorate of excuses that they are incapable of admitting their mistake. I don’t know why they bother to read this blog if they so disagree with my opinions. If it is to spread their anti-Israel ideology to others, what difference is there between them and the Spies who brought disaster upon the generation of Jews in the Wilderness while they were on the way to Eretz Yisrael?

I am writing this blog to the majority of Diaspora Jews, lovers of Israel. Some don’t yet understand the great importance of living in Israel, and others have actually contemplated coming to Israel, but simply have not been able to take the step because of the many real difficulties involved.

INDEPENDENCE FROM FOREIGN IDENTITIES

Today, driving my kids home from school, my youngest asked if we could buy a flag for the car, from the youth who was selling them at the intersection where we had stopped for a red light. With four days to go before Yom Haazmaut, blue and white Israeli flags are everywhere, waving from windows, rooftops, storefronts, and cars. Youths stand at almost every intersection, peddling the small flag and plastic stick that clips onto the window of your car. We already have one at home, but who knows where it is in the after-Pesach upheaval, so I readily agreed. What a happy smile on my son’s face as I handed him the little banner!

Jewish children growing up in Israel celebrate the Independence Day of the Jews, and not of the Americans, Canadians, or Japanese. They learn about brave Jewish soldiers and heroes, and not about George Washington, Napoleon, or Hirohito. They sing Jewish songs like the holy "Hallel" prayer that is recited in many synagogues, and not "The Star Spangled Banner." Even the secular pioneer ballads being played on the radio are filled with a spirit of Jewish valor and love for the Land. In short, kids in Israel grow up with a one-hundred percent Jewish identity, and not the schizophrenic, dual loyalty of being Jewish-Americans, which is to say, Americans all week long, and Jews during Shabbos.

Let’s face it, in America, France, Italy, Japan, or South Africa, how long would an Israeli flag last sticking out the window of a car before it was ripped off and cast to the wind?
As Tarzan affirms, if a child is raised in the jungle with apes, he will grow up thinking that he is an ape too. Is this what we want for our children?

An adult can make his own decisions. He is free to do what he wants. But why should Jewish parents bring up their children with split mentalities, half-Jew-half-gentile, where their nationality comes from the gentile country they live in, and their Jewishness is reduced to a religion - when they could raise them in the Jewish Homeland as one-hundred percent Jews? How can a parent knowingly discombobulate their children’s minds and implant in them a spurious identity that they may never be able to shed? To me that’s child abuse. After all, a person forms his opinions, values, and judgments according to his upbringing and surroundings. As Tarzan affirms, if a child is raised in the jungle with apes, he will grow up thinking that he is an ape too. Is this what we want for our children?

LAG BAOMER IS COMING! 

In Israel, the same night that Pesach ended, children all over the country began collected sticks and boards, branches and empty crates, wooden loading platforms and broken doors, in anticipation of Lag BaOmer bonfires weeks away. All day long, you can see kids dragging discarded lumber and dry branches through the streets. Already, with sixteen days to go, two-story high towers of wood can be see wherever you look. In the Diaspora, how many Jews have even heard of Lag BaOmer? The Hasidim, sure. But your average Jew? The minute he lights a match, the police are on the way. The Klu Klux Klan can burn bonfires, not Jews. He’d have to get permits from the Fire and Park and Police departments before he could even begin gathering wood. Boy Scouts have bonfires. High school football teams and their cheerleaders. But Jews in the Diaspora? No way. Jews have to keep a low profile in the neighborhood. They can’t ignite blazes that draw attention to something Jewish.

For those of you who have never experienced a Lag BaOmer, it is the 33rd day of Sefirat HaOmer. It is the day that the great and holy Sage, Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, master of the secrets of Torah, and author of the "Zohar," passed on from this world to the next. The bonfires all over the country celebrate the flaming light of his Torah achievement, which can never burn out. It is a national celebration, religious and secular alike, young people and old. School is cancelled. Each year on Lag BaOmer, a half million Jewish pilgrims make the long trek to Meron in the north of the country to pay respects at his tomb. How many people go to George Washington’s grave on his yahrtzeit? Probably not even a minyan.
True, there is a Holocaust Museum in Washington, and a Jewish Museum in New York, but there, the Jews are viewing Jewish history – here we are making it.

The point is that on this festive holiday honoring the Torah, and the legendary Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai and his teacher, Rabbi Akiva, the children of Israel are involved with Jewish heroes. This is real, living, experiential Jewish education that builds kids into being completely Jewish, inside and out. It isn’t the virtual Diaspora education gleaned from Internet websites and books. True, there is a Holocaust Museum in Washington, and a Jewish Museum in New York, but there, the Jews are viewing Jewish history – here we are making it.

So if you want your children’s Jewishness to be more than a museum visit, bring them to the Land of the Jews, where they will grow up as true Children of Israel, the way that G-d wants them to grow up, speaking Hebrew in their own Jewish Homeland, not as virtual Jews, but as Jews through and through, just like in the days of the Bible.