Raymond M. Berger
Real Bullet Points

Jewish America’s Failed Leaders: A Fairy Tale

One day a terrible thing happened.

Once upon a time, not long ago, there was a happy little town in a happy place in America. And in that town there was a happy little Jewish Community. At the head of the Community were Leaders. These Leaders thought themselves very wise.

Now in that happy little Jewish Community there was a Perplexed Jew. He was known wide and far for asking too many questions.  The Leaders found this fellow troublesome. He often asked questions the Leaders did not want to answer.

The Leaders never used the word “Israel.” The Perplexed Jew wondered why. So he asked a Leader, who replied, “The Community is for everyone.”

The Perplexed Jew asked, “Does ‘everyone’ include Jews who hate Israel?”

The Leaders said, “If we said the word “Israel” the Jewish Israel-haters would not support us. After all, Israel is not what Judaism is all about.”

Every year the Leaders sent two Jews to the big city to bring back pastrami sandwiches for the Jewish Community. The Jewish Community loved these pastrami sandwiches.

The Perplexed Jew asked the Leaders, “Why does the Community buy pastrami sandwiches so that Jews can give them to other Jews?”

One Leader was particularly fond of pastrami. Irritated by the Perplexed Jew’s question, he replied, “Pastrami sandwiches are what Judaism is all about!”

Every Chanukah the Leaders tried to make the Community happy. They invited all the Jews downtown where everyone lit the menorah, spun dreidels and sang happy holiday songs.

Always wanting an explanation, the Perplexed Jew asked the Leaders, “Why do you ask the Jews, every year, to light candles, spin dreidels and sing happy songs?

One Leader loved Chanukah. He was angered by the Perplexed Jew’s question. He replied, “Every Jew knows that Chanukah is what Judaism is all about.”

One Leader was always concerned about the feelings of people who were not Jewish. He was more concerned about the happiness of people who were not Jewish than about Jews themselves. He was even concerned about people who were enemies of the Jews across the world.  He told the Jews in the little town, “In Israel, those checkpoints are a hardship for the people who live next door. Sometimes, when a pregnant woman is about to deliver, she can’t get to the hospital in time!”

The Perplexed Jew asked the Leader, “Why do you want Israel to take down the checkpoints when you know that some of their neighbors want to do them harm?”

This annoyed the Leader greatly. How did the Perplexed Jew dare to question his opinion when he, the Leader, understood events better than anyone else? So he explained, “I don’t really care about the neighbors. But I say I do. That way, everyone will think I am a fine fellow. That is what Judaism is all about. Tikkun Olam!”

One day a terrible thing happened: Israel’s neighbors killed 1200 Jews on the other side of the world. Then Israel fought back. The Biggest Leader in town said, “Israel is killing too many of its enemies! And worse yet, Israel is making the whole world condemn the Jewish state.”

The Perplexed Jew was baffled. Why, he wondered, did the Biggest Leader not want Israel to kill the neighbors who were doing harm to the Jews? After all, these neighbors killed many Israelis and would do it again if they could.  So the Perplexed Jew asked the Biggest Leader, “Why are you more concerned about the neighbors who do Israel harm than you are about the safety of the Jews?”

The Biggest Leader grew impatient with the Perplexed Jew. He thought, “After all, I am the Biggest Leader. I know the difference between right and wrong!” So he replied to the Perplexed Jew, “I don’t really care about Israel’s neighbors. But when Israel kills its neighbors everyone in the world gets angry with Jews like me. So Israel should stand down. That is what Judaism is all about.”

After Israel’s neighbors killed 1200 Jews on the other side of the world, something changed in the happy little town. The townspeople began to attack the Jews. They said the Jews were to blame for all manner of things. Gradually at first, then faster and faster, Jews began to leave the happy little town.

After a time, the Perplexed Jew realized that he was the only Jew left in that little town. He wondered where all the Jews had gone. But there were no Leaders left to ask.

So the Perplexed Jew left for the only place he could go. He went to Israel. When he got there he discovered that all the Jews from the happy little town in America now lived in Israel. By then Israel was safe for Jews. It was now the only place in the world where a Jew could live safely.

And one more thing. None of the former Leaders from that happy little town were still Leaders. The Jews from the formerly happy little town in America had found better Leaders.

The End

About the Author
The author is a life-long Zionist and advocate for Israel. He believes that a strong Jewish state is invaluable, not only to Jews, but to the world-wide cause of democracy and human rights. Dr. Berger earned a PhD in Social Welfare from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and has twenty-seven years of teaching experience. He has authored and co-authored three books as well as over 45 professional journal articles and book chapters. His parents were Holocaust survivors.
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