I am fortunate to be surrounded by a loving, supportive family. A wonderful wife, two sons who have grown up to be independent and decent men, a grandchild who may be the cutest kid that ever lived; how much more could any man want from this world?
But I am doubly blessed because I also belong to another family, one that also nurtures, protects, shares, and comforts, and that is the worldwide Jewish family. When my parents moved to Israel after the War with two small children in tow, they were welcomed by a community that took care of them while they struggled to get on their feet, and when they decided to come to Canada to be closer to my father’s family, here too they were met by their fellow Jews who helped them find a place to live and jobs to earn a dignified living. When one of us was ill, there were doctors available who would provide care without compensation. When my father wanted to start his own business, he found the financial and moral support he needed from the Hebrew Free Loan Society. Whenever my parents experienced moments of doubt or despair, there was always someone in the larger Jewish family ready and willing to provide whatever assistance was required.
Whenever I consider how lucky I am to be a member of two such strong, unique families, I’m reminded of the words of that famous philosopher, Police Commissioner Frank Regan : Family Always Comes First (I’m not the only fan of ‘Blue Bloods’, right ?), his point being that whatever the issue, one should always prioritize the interests of one’s family.
There are times when your family may be dead-wrong, but you still need to find a way to resolve the conflict in a manner that doesn’t hurt them, especially when your family is often besieged on all sides by parties intent on doing them harm which has too often been the case in Jewish history.
I thought about this family-first credo when considering how a number of Rabbis endorsed their congregants participating in last weekend’s Women’s March despite the overt anti-Semitism of many of the March’s leaders; how leading Democrats such as Chuck Schumer and Adam Schiff couldn’t bring themselves to criticize the outrageous anti-Israel and anti-Jewish statements of their new caucus members; how Jewish members of J-Street, B’Tselem and If-Not-Now continue to express half-truths and outright lies defaming Israel; how some prominent Jewish journalists and academics continue to parrot the Islamist slander of Jews as oppressors and Palestinians as the perpetual victims; how so many educated and normally well-informed Jews could continue to idolize Barak Obama despite his 8-year war on Israel; how prominent (and strikingly naïve and ill-informed) Jewish celebrities like Natalie Portman play the role of useful idiots in condemning Israel’s actions.
Even if those people judge their families’ actions to be unconscionable or lacking virtue or justification, there is always a way to frame your concerns in a way that doesn’t attack or demean your family. That consideration and nuanced objection is completely and inexplicably absent from the criticisms of these Jews who prioritize the needs (or more accurately, the complaints) of others before their fellow Jews.
Yes, women and people of color have legitimate grievances that should be heard and respected. But when leaders of those groups utter some of the most extreme anti-Semitic canards, maybe their Jewish supporters should realize that their continuing involvement with groups led by such unapologetic Jew-haters conflicts with the best interests of the Jewish community. And even though it’s understandable that Democratic Party leadership would want to protect their youthful newcomers, it would be even more praise-worthy if those senior politicians at least acknowledged the feelings and vulnerabilities of their fellow Jews.
As for the progressive Jews who seem to always be on the front lines of Israel-bashing organizations, I’m not sure to which family they think they belong but it’s certainly not the Jewish one. Perhaps they could be forced to watch a full season of ‘Blue Bloods’ to understand that when you don’t have family, you have nothing.