Peter Braun
Born in Prague; former Skokie resident

A Little about Racism and God

After college,  I used to have Friday night Shabbat dinners at a local Chabad House near my college.  I remember the rabbi referring to black people as Schvartzes and to non-Jews as Goyim.

Those terms sounded pretty derogatory and condescending to me.  I am not one, by a long shot, who thinks white people are better than all blacks; or that Jews are better than all non-Jews.

I feel the following.   God loves all people and all colors and all religions and all nations. Solomon’s favorite wife, of his hundreds, had dark skin.  Solomon was not racist. And he was wise.  Many of our greatest writers, poets, politicians, religious figures, and scientists have had dark skin or black skin.  I do not agree with any European Jewish person who looks down on dark-skinned people.   There are Jews who have lived in northern Africa and the Middle East.  They didn’t suddenly become inferior to those who lived in Europe.  Even Sabras tend to start having darker skin.  They don’t become dumber as their skin becomes tanner. Enough with using the term Schvartze.  I don’t like it.

This use of the term Goyim, and our oftentimes belief that we are better than Goyim, disturbs me.  I still know Jewish people today who think that they are automatically better than all non-Jews.  Or that the term Chosen People has anything to do with being better.  It does not; and I’ll explain why.

We are not automatically smarter than everyone.   Other nations, according to IQ assessments, have just as high a nationally averaged IQ as we have, if not higher, and also win Nobel Prizes,  Oscars, Pulitzer prizes, win chess tournaments, and get PhDs.  We are not the only people on the planet with advanced degrees and awards.   A person who reads a Jewish prayer book is not automatically more spiritual that a poet who reads tens of thousands of award-winning poems; nor are we automatically more spiritual than a country musician who has listened to tens of thousands of spiritual, country songs.  They, too, appreciate life and God.  The Jewish person who finds Temple boring and prayers boring is not becoming closer to God or becoming more spiritual.

Other occupations can appreciate God.  The botanist who understand the perfection of plant life may come to appreciate God.  The Physicist and the Chemist and Astronomer, who gains a deep appreciation for our world, universe, or the human body may come to appreciate God.  The athlete who appreciates how blessed he or she is to have health, strength, speed, and coordination may come to appreciate God.  Jewish scholars are not the only ones who appreciate God.

In terms of being a chosen people,  you can be chosen to be the ultimate nice guy or to be a proper role model, or to be the philosophical people, or the wise people, or the intellectual people.   Being this person does not make you automatically the bravest, toughest, strongest, fastest, smartest, most wealthy, most popular, or most happy.   It just makes you the nicest or most thoughtful.

I will assume we were chosen to be the nice people, and being nice makes you a good role model.  If we are symbolically the referees in a worldwide football game, we need to know the rule book; we need to be impartial and fair, and we need to be fit enough to run around the field.  However, we are not as wealthy as the team owners, as brilliant as the coaches, as athletic as the pro players, or as energetic and attractive as the cheerleaders; or as emotionally engaged as the fans. We are just the referees.   There is an equality to people that we should better appreciate.  Everyone on our planet has their role to play.  All roles are important and significant.  (In conclusion, the reverse is true too.  Non-Jewish people should accept our role and level of equality as well.)

All right. That is enough for today’s rant.

About the Author
Born in Prague of the Czech Republic. Moved to the U.S. in 1968, during the Czech Spring. The son of two Holocaust Survivors, orphans, who worked in healthcare or science. I have a brother who is a Klezmer musician in Chicago. I studied creative writing during college at Northwestern University in Evanston. For my career, I have mainly worked in IT, as a desktop publisher, database publisher, and intranet web publisher. For writing, I have written user manuals, help files, and training manuals.
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