Jack Engelhard
Jack EngelhardCourtesy

Connor was a regular guy. That’s how we met, one regular guy to another.

Connor was a Baptist minister. In that capacity, he served as chaplain at the racetrack, mostly to the horsemen in the backstretch.

They needed help…drugs, alcohol, failed marriages, depression.

Everybody liked him. He had that way about him. He was a good listener and he wasn’t preachy.

We met when I was at the track, doing research for a book. We became friends. A few times he and his wife visited our home, once for Shabbat.

At one point he even turned me back to Torah study. After all these years in one Torah academy and another, it was like I had to start all over again.

That’s when he surprised me with a particular passage and it escaped me, the source or the answer. “Jack,” he exclaimed, “you don’t know your own Bible.”

So yes, because of that, I started all over again, and never stopped, except for that period in Greenwich Village.

I never became the next Rashi, and these days, I am sure, I can still be stumped. It amazes me how much I do not know, Torah or otherwise. I am not the smartest even in my own home.

Isaac Babel’s mother told him, when raising him, “You must know everything.” Where to begin, and where does it end?

One day, Connor and I were in the track kitchen, just schmoozing. I lacked the right change for the Coke machine.

“Oh come on,” he laughed. “You people always have money.”

Chalk that up as a case of a person finding his inner, latent, antisemitism. In Judaism, we believe that every Jew has a "pintele' Yid in him, a spark of Jewishness, regardless of how far gone he may be. That spark may be ignited at any time. The same works for what I am calling pintele antisemitism. Such as we saw with Candace Owens.

Just like that, it surfaces, it erupts. It’s like pregnancy. One way or another, it comes out.

Apparently, it’s science, stupid. It is in the genes, and we are not talking about in your face antisemitism like what’s been triggered since Oct. 7.

From the UN onwards, we know who they are, so they can’t surprise us. I partly take that back. Israeli Intel was not prepared for Hamas.

Germany traded Jesus for Hitler practically overnight, and in France, the day Hitler arrived there as well, through Vichy, my sister’s best friend, Incarnacion, refused to join Sarah in their usual romp to school, saying she wanted no part of “a dirty Jew.” Pintele antisemitism, and so young.

Biden is old. So it can happen to anyone, any time.

For me, it’s about people we like, people we trust. What are they thinking behind our backs? Which is not to say that this is something to think about 24 hours a day…. although sometimes we can’t help ourselves now that we Jews are so much in season. Biden now supports “Pro-Palestine” marchers.

Just once in a while we’d like to know which friends are for real. I’m thinking of literary people and musicians I admire and some in Sports.

Where will I find their pintele antisemitism, to my dismay?

I have read the biographies on Tolstoy and can’t find him being a pintele antisemite. Rare in Russia at that time, or anytime, anywhere.

I could be wrong. I may have missed something. Because I did not want to know more, and be disappointed.

In “Anna Karenina,” he does make some remark about Jewish lawyers, but lawyers are always fair game.

Babe Ruth? Joe DiMaggio? Bryce Harper? They seem kosher to me, and for Beethoven, I can find no wrong, thankfully.

But then, I never asked a nickel for a Coke.

New York-based bestselling American novelist Jack Engelhard writes regularly for Arutz Sheva.

He wrote the worldwide book-to-movie bestseller “Indecent Proposal,” the authoritative newsroom epic, “The Bathsheba Deadline,” followed by his coming-of-age classics, “The Girls of Cincinnati,” and, the Holocaust-to-Montreal memoir, “Escape from Mount Moriah.” For that and his 1960s epic “The Days of the Bitter End,” contemporaries have hailed him “The last Hemingway, a writer without peer, and the conscience of us all.” Contact here.

NOW AVAILABLE: The collection of Jack Engelhard’s op-eds, Writings, here

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Plus, a free sample chapter of his noir gambling thriller, Compulsive, is available from his website, here.