The Return of the Prodigal Son: A meditation on overcoming Jewish self-hatred
“…And I remain a Jew though unable to say with assurance whether Jewishness can be reduced to a matter of belief, ethnicity, genetics, illusion, duty, allegiance, or cultural attitude. After all, what does an Ethiopian Falasha have to do with a Russian émigré or a Chinese votary or an ultra-Orthodox rabbi from Galicia or the Bnei Menashe in India and Burma or facile entertainers like Jon Stewart (né Jonathan Stuart Leibowitz) or assimilated bigots like Richard Falk and Richard Goldstone or a sodden philosopher like Martin Buber with mulch for a mind or true heroes like Theodor Herzl and Ze’ev Jabotinsky? It has been said, I believe correctly, that Jews do not share a religion so much as a history, even if that history has been repudiated. In the same way, Jews are always in danger of sharing a particular kind of future — one which those on the Left, and those who have gambled on the shelter of assimilation, censure from recognition.
Moreover, I am a Jew, as I now realize, because the world will never let me conclude otherwise. Traitors, assimilationists, court Jews, sycophants, basement cowerers, prodigal sons and daughters, Sabbath Jews, men and women of faith, the noble and the contemptible — they may all find themselves at some fateful moment in time splayed in the crosshairs. Ultimately, the dubious among them cannot quibble their way past endemic hostility or fall back on convenient sophistries. My uncle Snetzi was surely on to something. Paranoia may well be the Jew’s only sane response to the world’s perennial enmity. In the long run, strenuous attempts at forgetting or denial or glossing over are a losing proposition.”