Bryan Schwartz
Law Professor, Author of "Sacred Goof" and "Consoulation: A Musical Mediation"

Esther? The Politics: The book explores all options…but one.

Here in the Diasporas, Jewish identity and thriving are under attack.

Some Christian church organizations routinely vilify Israel. One common motivation is to overcome their shame about the past ravages of Christian antisemitism, “If the Jews, given power, turn out to be Nazis, we do not have to be bad about that whole Holocaust thing.” Many in the flock are not sure about the divinity of Jesus, or even the existence of the Creator, but they are certain that Israel is worthy of their contempt.

Other Christian organizations are staunch supporters of Israel’s right to exist. Their philosemitism arises in part from the ongoing reverence of their members for the bible – including the Jewish scriptures as well as the Gospels (written mostly by Jews and about Jews, especially Jesus).

The demography of  Canada is changing. Jews are dwindling percentage, Muslims an increasing one. Some Muslims are influenced by interpretations of Islam that are theologically antisemitic, some others by the anti-Israel politics of their original countries. As with Christians, there are some Muslims who are sympathetic to Judaism and Israel’s right to exist. Potential positive factors could be Israel’s record as the only multicultural democracy in the region, or its stalwart resistance to Iranian imperialism and its proxies that threaten so many Arab peoples.

The most powerful religion in North America now, however, is wokeism. It dominates the universities, who in turn powerfully their students, many to the point of permanent indoctrination. Workers share with the regressive forms of Christianity and Islam a resolute hostility to Jews and Israel. Anyone doubting the realities should read David Bernstein’s recent book “Woke AntisemitismHow a Progressive Ideology Harms Jews.”

Everywhere outside of Israel, Jews are a smaller and smile part of their mainstream populations. With that, any voting clout they may have had is dwindling.

Within these Diaspora Jewish communities, there are loyal critics of aspects of doctrinal Judaism or the policies of Israel. Increasingly, however, there are many Jews who are detached from their origins and others who are actively hostile. These are generally Jews who have been insufficiently informed of their heritage or sufficiently intimidated by the ambient antisemitism. They describe themselves as “of Jewish heritage” or “technically Jewish.”     Or “Jew-buts.”   as in “I am Jewish, but I don’t believe any of it” or “I am Jewish, but I don’t agree with Israel…”   The most hostile has been colourfully described as “Yidiots.”

Esther is about the options for surviving in a Diaspora Culture.

Hide. Mordecai initially instructs Esther to not reveal her Jewish origins. Disadvantage:  you become what you pretend to be: not Jewish.

Go along to get along. Esther endears herself initially in the harem system by taking the advice of her counsellors and never asking for more than is offered. Disadvantage:  you are silent and passive in the face of evil.

Play the inside game, court politics. Mordecai and Esther both become powerful figures in the King’s inner councils. They choose to use their influence, when needed, to protect their Jews from cruelty and destruction. This is what Esther did, at the risk of immediate execution. Disadvantage:  you might help to serve a despotic regime. Practical reality: nowadays, many Jews in positions of power are so afraid of being criticized for parochial favouritism that they do nothing for Jewish causes or even tilt against them. Another practical reality: drawbridge Jews. You got in personally, but then you aggressively favour policies, like DEI, that go beyond fairness for all and are effectively antisemitic. The next generation of your fellow Jews will not have the opportunities you did. But that’s okay, you made it.

Passive resistance:  Mordecai refuses to bow to Haman. Disadvantage:  A risky move. He might have been expelled from the precincts of the capital or simply killed right away. Then where would he be when needed to prevent the genocide of Jews that Haman proposed to carry out?

Unite the Jewish community in active opposition to threats:    Mordecai and Esther urge their fellow Jews through the empire to unite and rise – in the Purim case, violently – against their persecutors. Disadvantages:   The open voicing of Jewish opposition can feed the antisemitic opinion and conduct of your enemies, who may be more powerful politically or militarily.

Leave: in the movie Oppenheimer, the Einstein character advises Oppenheimer to move away from his political problems, just as Einstein escaped from Europe before the Holocaust. Disadvantage:  the next place might be hostile unless you are going to Israel. If you go to Israel, your state is treated as the world’s Jew, and you are threatened by powerful neighbours with physical extinction.

The “leave” option is not identified in the Book of Esther. Yet it may be the only one left for committed Jews in the Diaspora. Esther did not have a state of Israel. or even a self-governing Jewish province, to which to return. We are not told expressly if she even dreams of such a Jewish haven.

Today, a sovereign Israel, however embattled, exists.

Is it finally time to go home?

About the Author
Bryan Schwartz is a playwright, poet, songwriter and author drawing on Jewish themes, liturgy and more. In addition to recently publishing the 2nd edition of Holocaust survivor Philip Weiss' memoirs and writings titled "Reflections and Essays," Bryan's personal works include two Jewish musicals "Consolation: A Musical Meditation" (2018) and newly debuted "Sacred Goof" (2023). Bryan also created and helps deliver an annual summer program at Hebrew University in Israeli Law and Society and has served as a visiting Professor at both Hebrew University and Reichman University.  Bryan P Schwartz holds a bachelor’s degree in law from Queen’s University, Ontario, and Master’s and Doctorate Degree in Law from Yale Law School. As an academic, he has over forty years of experience, including being the inaugural holder of an endowed chair in international business and trade law,  and has won awards for teaching, research and scholarship. He has been a member of the Faculty of Law at the University of Manitoba since 1981. Bryan serves as counsel for the Pitblado Law firm since 1994. Bryan is an author/contributor of 34 books and has over 300 publications in all. He is the founding and general editor of both the Asper Review of International Business and Trade Law and the Underneath the Golden Boy series, an annual review of legislative developments in Manitoba. Bryan also has extensive practical experience in advising governments – federal,  provincial, territorial and Indigenous –and private clients  in policy development and legislative reform and drafting. Areas in which Bryan has taught, practiced or written extensively, include: constitutional law, international, commercial, labour, trade,  internet and e-commerce law  and alternate dispute resolution and governance. For more information about Bryan’s legal and academic work, please visit: