Saturday, January 27, 2007

I don't usually write controversial articles, mostly because I avoid stirring up trouble, and I don't get a thrill out of hate mail. But my latest article on new anti-Semitism in this week's Pacific Sun, may just be the first (or maybe I'm being paranoid).

What makes the topic so interesting (to me) is that this new anti-Semitism, as defined by the Anti Defamation League, is coming from the unlikely source of the poltical left, disguised as criticism of the Israeli gov't/policies but equating it with negative Jewish stereotypes.

My editor gave me this assignment because we have a good working relationship and he feels I'm capable. But more than a few of the people I interviewed, when they heard my name, made vast assumptions about my "obvious" Jewishness based on my name, and came to conclusions like one man I who said, "Well I can see why they gave YOU this assignment."

Ironically, due to the way that my grandparents transmitted Judaism to my father (they didn't, too traumatized by what they'd seen in both Palestine/Israel when they lived there, and by what became of their families back in Germany), and the fact that my mother is not Jewish, I grew up as a little girl with a very Jewish sounding name, but no awareness of the religion or its traditions to back it up.

Yet all my life, my name was enough to make people want to include me in a tradition I have never had a claim to (I've always thought that was sweet).

In college I decided I wanted to get in touch with my Jewish roots, and so I turned to my grandparents who told me they were the worst source. Then I went to a lovely reform temple with a friend, where the Rabbi was female, and I had a great experience. But not enough to convert.

Despite all that, I will admit there's something about the traditions and rituals that attract me, but I can say the same for a lot of the traditions and rituals of other religions.

Mostly, I found this article so interesting to research because of people's intensity, the long-embattled history of Jews as scapegoats, and the hypocrisy that even left-leaning "humanitarian" types fall prey to.


At 11:51 AM, Blogger Stephanie said...

Congratulations on your well-written and well-researched article.

I'm always surprised (and I shouldn't be) when I come across anti-Semitic material in the mainstream like at an Apple store:

but I guess I shouldn't be so surprised given the history you write about.

At 2:27 AM, Blogger Ellen said...

This sounds like a great article, Jordan. I'll be back later to read it.

Congrats on the assignment and kudos for taking it on!

At 6:16 PM, Blogger Jordan E. Rosenfeld said...

Thanks Steph...I was lucky to get a lot of great leads from each person I talked to.

Ellen, I'll be curious what you think. It was eye-opening to say the least.

At 12:01 PM, Blogger gerry rosser said...

I have been co-habilitating with a Jewish woman lo, these 13 years or so. She is not my first Jewish girlfriend, or friend in general. I have yet to find anything about them being Jewish which causes me to think about it, other than when I'm asked to put a mezzuzah (spelling?) up beside the door of any new house we move to (5 so far if I haven't lost count)(well, some of those times its the same mezzuzah, on account of it moves with us).
What the world needs is more people like, well, like me. I'm so blase about stuff that other people seem to find significance in it's like I'm a blase savant, a blase prodigy. I disdain (eschew? forswear?) symbolism. To mis-paraphrase S. Freud: A cigar is always just a cigar.
I was thinking about this while I was walking upstairs here in the Stamping Station for about the fourth or fifth time today looking to scrounge something to eat from the little fridge, finding nothing had appeared in it since the last time.
I'll read your article in the fullness of time.

At 12:10 PM, Blogger gerry rosser said...

Oh, yeah, I used to be a "token Jew."
I guess my last name "Rosser" (why did I put that in quotes?) sounds Jewish to somebody or another. My boss in my first law firm (a distinctly whitebread sort of joint) would occasionally introduce me as his "token Jew."
Being the blase person I am, I didn't care one way or the other what the guy said, as long as my paychecks didn't bounce (they never did). He took me to some "clubs" where his ilk (shouldn't say "ilk" it sounds kind of negative) hung out, you know, male-only bastions of drink, smoke, food, and boredom. His sidekicks knew (as I did not at the time), that there was no way he would have brought a Jewish person to these sanctums.

There's a story about a cat involving one of these joints, but I don't feel this would be a good time or place to relate it.

At 1:34 PM, Blogger gerry rosser said...

I'm starting to look like a chronic here.

Read the article, kudos, I found the article well-written and researched.

Hope you aren't mad I've filled up your blog with my prolix verbiage today.


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