24 January 2006

Out of the Archives

Going through your archives can be an esteem-building experience. Back in my undergrad days, I took a "Sociology of the Holocaust" course that offered a lot of information channelled through a fairly uninformed professor. We were required to keep weekly journals which she would read, critique, and give back to us with notes. How anyone feels justified in judging your personal opinions, I do not know, but somehow blathering on about what we thought for a couple of pages was justified as "homework."

Apparently, Christian anti-Semitism was the topic of one of my journal entries. (That having been one of the root causes of anti-Semitism among the German population.) My sarcasm went unappreciated by the professor (surprise, surprise-- I assume she was hoping we'd all discover our inner-J.D. Salinger through the exercise) who claimed that I had "hatred to work through" after reading my piece. I wonder if she said the same thing after reading Eli Wiesel.

I would like to take this moment to clarify that I do not hate Christians. I have no problem with anyone's religion, as long as it doesn't make a dhimmi or a target out of me. I do, however, have a great, big, huge problem with hypocrisy; that is the true subject of my critique, as the brilliant readers of this blog will no doubt fully comprehend.

I don't publish this response to my professor's psychoanalysis of my character here in order to inflame my Christian readers with righteous indignation. Rather, I publish it because HaShem has given me the keen gift of finding humor in the darkest of miseries. In these days, when Christians and Jewish people are becoming one unified body in so many respects, being able to laugh at our past differences can only aide us as we grow together.

That, and I'm Jewish, so I'd like to think there's a little George Burns in me, too. Or at least a drop of Lenny Bruce.

***

In my February 12th journal entry I was accused of having hatred to work through. I decided to make this concept the focus of my rewrite, since it is such a serious claim upon my personage. I have never considered myself a person who harbored such passionate feelings of a negative nature towards Christians. However, having re-read my statements and the comments, I felt the need to put myself under analysis.

I began this process by questioning my closest friends regarding these claims. Two of them, devout Christians of a Baptist nature, replied by saying that just because I was a Christ-killer didn’t mean I wasn’t fun to hang out with on a Saturday night. My Presbyterian friend, a fellow Film major, said that I sure made good films despite the fact that I’m going to burn in eternal hellfire. Two of my three Catholic friends said that the Holy Father might let me into heaven if I traveled to Vatican City and kissed the ring on the third finger of his left-hand. While I’ll admit that when my third Catholic friend queried, “if you’re so Jewish, where’s your horns,” I replied by saying “they only come out when I’m south of the Mason-Dixon line,” I only meant it in jest.

After receiving confirmation that I was a nice little earthly demon from my Christian friends, I proceeded to question the people who know me the best- my parents. After showing my father the journal entry and corresponding comments, he replied with, “ask your mother,” and proceeded to finish reading his copy of Destroying Goys for Dummies. When I did as my father instructed, my mother replied with, “why can’t you just be like all the other college students and write about normal things? Why do you always have to be writing about the past? That’s why we’re in America now!”

Taking my parents’ comments with a grain of kosher salt, I considered my options. Where else could I turn to confirm my friends’ good opinions? How could I prove to myself that I wasn’t a Christian-hater? First I contacted my local Rabbi, but was told that he was kvetching over the fact that he paid 39 cents more for foodstore matzah instead of getting it wholesale and therefore was not able to come to the phone. Pulling out the phonebook, I proceeded to call another area Rabbi who deemed me a mensch after I told him where the best bagels were in south Jersey and therefore concluded that anyone who said I had hatred was meshugenah.

With my friends, my parents, and finally a Rabbi telling me I was okay, I was convinced that these claims of hatred couldn’t possibly be true. How, though, could they have been made? Possibly through a misenterpretation of what I wrote. My original comments read: “...Then again, one wonders how Yeshua preached against child sacrifice when, as a Jew, He must have lived on children’s blood. And He had horns, too. Big, fat ones. Poke, poke.”

Immediately I realized the error of my ways. While I added truth to the serum of Christianity and the issue of anti-semitism, I failed to explain the method by which I was doing it. Again, I was lapsing into my roots and doing that Jewish thing- approaching an extremely painful, insulting, and misunderstood issue with an educated sense of humor. While this approach has given my people hope and encouragement over the past 5,762 years of turmoil and persecution, I had no right to rely on this method when confronting the constant suffering of my people thanks to the ignorance of the world in an academic setting.

I wish to make it known that at no time did I mean to inflict hatred upon the Christian people, or to mock their beliefs in any fashion. One of the many things I have learned in class is that if I were to take such an approach towards Christians, I would be no better than them.

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