Thank You, Whoopi!

Copyright is held by Daniel Langer and Comic Relief, Inc., CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

There is a book that someone once showed me called, Is Your Dog Jewish? It was a party conversation starter that had one question on each page, beginning with, “Is your dog Jewish?”

Of course, if you have a dog, you’re probably nodding your head.

On another page, it said, “If the FBI were following you from morning until night for a week, would they know you were a Jew?”

It made me wonder, would they? If it’s not the week of my son’s bar mitzvah or Yom Kippur, what do I do on a daily basis that would cause them to know I’m Jewish?

Next question: “If someone broke into your home in the middle of the night, would they know you were Jewish?”

In my home, they would see mezuzahs and Jewish art, and perhaps they would notice that there are two dishwashers marked “milk” and “meat.”

Yet, I have been in homes where, if you didn’t know the family was Jewish, you would not know.   In one home, filled with global art and books, on a very high shelf in the office sat a tiny Chanukah menorah. Jew.

Years ago, when the first Gulf War broke out, and missiles were reigning upon Tel Aviv, my Jewish neighbors in Toronto told me, “I have never felt more Jewish.”

On a very different scale, Whoopi Goldberg’s remarks on The View had a similar effect. She threw a missile at all of us. Jews, who don’t always “feel so Jewish,” were suddenly discussing what she said and grappling with the most important question: What are we? Are we a race, religion, or nation?

You can read my previous blog for my opinion, but my opinion is not the point here. I believe Whoopi has done something great for us. She has sparked debate and stirred up something inside of us and between us.  Whoopi made us think about what it means to be Jewish.

And that’s good. That’s very, very good.

Beware – don’t get caught up with how ABC handled Whoopi’s comments. They have their own political inner workings.

This is a moment for each one of us to reflect on what it means to be a Jew and to be part of the Jewish people. It’s a call for clarity.

And once we have that clarity, we need the courage to live by it.

So, thank you, Whoopi, for reminding us to stop and consider who we truly are.

About the Author
Lori Palatnik is the Founding Director of Momentum (formerly JWRP). She is a world-renowned Jewish educator, speaker, writer, and media personality, who has lectured all over the world. Lori has authored four books: Friday Night and Beyond, Gossip, Remember My Soul, and Turn Your Husband Into Your Soul Mate. In 2014, Lori was named one of the ten “Women to Watch” by Jewish Women International in recognition of her contribution to Jewish women throughout the world. Hadassah named Lori one of the “Most Outstanding Jewish American Women of Our Time” and Izzy included Lori in its “Global Jewish 100” list. In 2020, Lori was selected to light the “Diaspora” torch at the national ceremony for Israel’s 72nd Independence Day. Lori lives with her husband in Jerusalem.
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