THE STORY OF THE JEWISH DEFENSE LEAGUE Page 155
Chapter 5: I Am a Jew
 
 
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I Am a Jew 155

bHillel Foundation rabbi—who commented that he had been bon the campus for three years and had never seen most of bthese students. There we sat and talked about being Jewish buntil four in the morning. As the youngsters left, one bstopped and said to me, “I want to tell you something. Last bYom Kippur I went to school and I want you to know why.

b“I had decided to go to Temple (he mentioned that his bvery wealthy parents belonged to one of the wealthy temples bin the city), and I remember that my parents spent two bhours worrying about what to wear. And when we got there, bthey spent the entire time talking with the people next to bthem. So I made up my mind that I was going to go to school bon Yom Kippur.”

bThink it over. That may be one of the deepest and most bperceptive stories about the decline and fall of American bJudaism we may ever hear. It is more than a story; it is a cry bfrom the depths of a young Jew who is looking for himself, bwho wants his heritage but can apparently only find it in his bmaterialistic parents and gilded temple-mausoleum. And bhe then confuses all that he sees with authentic Judaism; he bthinks that this is Judaism. Little wonder that he flees from it bin horror and disgust. That youngster was a product of the bhypocrisy that passes for Jewish home life and education in bAmerica.

bWithin his home, he saw the blatant hypocrisy of parents bwho sent him to synagogue, ostensibly to learn Jewish values bbut who themselves ignored it in practice. The youth reacts bwith revulsion and contempt if he is sensitive or with disin- bterest if he is not. In either case, the Judaism of his home bremains insignificant and irrelevant. And then there is bJewish education.

bThe American Jew who rejected the Jewish yeshiva, that bplace of maximum Jewish learning that created the bmaximum Jew, also invented a substitute for it, the “reli- bgious school.” Here, after public school, the youngster could bget a Jewish education but not too Jewish. Here he could be btrained for the great day of bar mitzvah, that hideous hor- bror, that obscene ostentatiousness that took a point in a bchild’s life that was meant to be a beginning and made it the b 

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THE STORY OF THE JEWISH DEFENSE LEAGUE Page 155
Chapter 5: I Am a Jew