As a community, we Jews are quite experienced when it comes to documenting the various errors and tragedies that befall us. We remember when our ancestors erred in the Wilderness, delaying our entry into the Holy Land by a whole generation. We remember the destruction (twice) of the Beit Hamikdash, may it be rebuilt speedily and in our days. We recall, with gruesome detail, the Crusades, the Inquisitions, the Pogroms, and the Holocausts. And of course, we remember the blood libels that inspired so many of them. In its original form, the dreaded blood libel was the assertion, made at different times by Jew haters and self-hating Jews (the latter seeking acceptance by gentiles, and willing to pay for it in the blood of their former coreligionists), that before the Passover holiday, the Jews would kidnap a non-Jewish child, ritualistically murder them, and use their blood in the baking of matzot, adding another level of meaning to the term "bread of affliction."
Never mind the fact that blood (of kosher animals, let alone human beings) is not kosher. Never mind that murder is unkosher in the extreme. People wanted a way to rationalize their Jew hatred, so they were more than willing to believe wild tales of blood-infused matzah, the Jewish theft and torture of communion wafers (if you don't know to what I'm referring here, consider yourself lucky; it's even more stupid than it sounds), and the Jewish poisoning of wells. That one came about because when the majority of Europe died of the Bubonic Plague, Jewish communities were generally less affected than their neighbors, probably because a lot of Jewish practices involve bathing and hand-washing, before those things caught on throughout the West in general.
Sure, these things seem far-fetched to any reasonable person, or anyone with even the most rudimentary knowledge of Jewish law and custom. But we live in a world where the most outlandish of conspiracy theories continue to thrive, even more so now, thanks to the advent of the Internet.
Knowing now that we Jews take the whole "never forget" thing seriously, remembering our sufferings, and the insinuations against our people, going all the way back to the Bible, I ask: What happened? Why is Oprah exempted from this collective Jewish memory? Don't know what I'm talking about? Don't worry - you will.
So, after the long, spectacularly successful run of her daytime talk show, Oprah Winfrey moved on to bigger, better things. Namely, her OWN network. That's what it's actually called, the Oprah Winfrey Network (O.W.N.) On her OWN network, Oprah has her OWN show, entitled "Oprah's Next Chapter" (I'm beginning to notice a theme here). On the Oprah Winfrey Network's "Oprah's Next Chapter," Oprah does all kinds of Oprah things. It's just Oprah being Oprah, to the delight of millions of bored housewives across the Oprah, I mean, nation.
"So?" you're probably asking. "Why should I care?" Well, it happens that on next week's episode of "Oprah's Next Chapter," Oprah is visiting the Jewish communities of Boro Park and Crown Heights. Actually, the visit took place months ago, and was widely publicized in local media. But it's just now that they're finally airing it.
During the two-part episode, Oprah "spends time with two Hasidic Jewish families who give her unprecedented access into their world, revealing secrets into their usually private way of life."
"So?!" I can hear you asking again, "What's your point?!" Wow, you sure are impatient. In any event, if you read the headline, you already have some idea of what's coming. Way back in 1985, Oprah hosted a very special episode of her show wherein her guest, appearing under the pseudonym "Rachel," told the harrowing tale, before a national audience, of how she grew up in what was an ostensibly Orthodox Jewish family, but one that, behind closed doors, worshipped Satan and, wait for it... sacrificed infants!
Of course, Rachel herself was abused, suffers from multiple personality disorder, and many of her childhood memories have been repressed. All of which makes her sound like a highly credible witness, who would have no problem recalling her experiences accurately, and who would have absolutely no reason to make up horrible things about her allegedly abusive parents.
To my mind, the biggest question surrounding all this isn't even why Oprah would give a national forum to such a dubious and blatantly anti-Semitic story (indeed, this modern blood libel become the go-to video for Neo-Nazis, Islamists, and all variety of anti-Semites seeking to prove how evil the Jews are - and if you think I'm exaggerating or making and of this up, go to any Internet search engine and plug in the words "Oprah," "Jewish," and "Satanic").
Rather, the question that bothers me most is, how could we forget?! We remember the blood libels, the passion plays, the forced public debates, and the humiliations that have lowered our esteem in the eyes of the nations, and led, directly or indirectly, to the systematic, often violent, persecution that we have suffered. Considering that we recall these things in vivid detail for hundreds, even thousands of years, how could we fail to remember what happened in our very own generation? Can someone explain this to me, please?! (Seriously, drop us a line at email@example.com and let us know what you think.)
Of course, Oprah is kind enough to explain: "I want to make it clear that this is one Jewish person, so don't go around now, saying to people, you know, 'Those Jewish people, they're worshipping . . . .' This is the first time I heard of any Jewish people sacrificing babies..."
Thanks for clearing that one up, Ms. Winfrey! For a second I might have mistaken your program about a baby-murdering, power-seeking kabbalistic Jewish cult for something anti-Semitic.
I would call upon all who are as outraged as we are to contact the Oprah Winfrey Network, and demand that Oprah issue an apology that is more than a quarter of a century overdue.
Now that I think about it, perhaps I'm not giving the guests on next week's show enough credit. Maybe they saw the show in '85, and wanted to show Oprah that we are in fact a holy nation, one that doesn't eat babies.
But I kind of doubt it.