Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Principal Deems Jesus Chant Offensive

I was looking for some information about James Cameron's "Jesus tomb" film (more on that in a later post) when the above headline caught my eye.

For those who haven't heard about it: there was a high school basketball game in Virginia between a Catholic school and another school, which was marred by an "antisemitic chant" and "antisemitic graffiti." The "antisemitic" chant was, "We love Jesus," and the "antisemitic" graffiti was the word "Jew" painted on the gym wall below the name of the home team.

I confess, I was a bit puzzled that anybody would perceive "We love Jesus" as an antisemitic chant. They weren't even playing against a Jewish school: the game was on the night of February 2, and no Jewish school would host a basketball game on a Friday night, Shabbat! But apparently, the hosting school is known to have a significant Jewish population, and anti-Jewish sentiment was the essence of the message expressed.

The important thing to understand about antisemitism (and all bigotry for that matter) is that hatred lies in the heart, not in the words. The word "Jew" is not an offensive term. I use the word all the time. It's much less cumbersome than the politically correct "Jewish person." But the word "Jew" becomes offensive when it is used to express the hatred in the heart, when it is used as a shorthand for, "This is a person you're supposed to hate, and you're supposed to hate him because he is a Jew."

Likewise, there is nothing wrong with the words "We love Jesus," nothing inherently offensive about them. But when the hatred lies in the heart and the words are used as a shorthand for, "We love Jesus, but you don't, and we're going to make you suffer for it," then yes, that's hate speech. And it saddens me that young people are apparently using words of love to express hate. At least, that seems to be what the Catholic school's principal thought.

Let me emphasize: it was the Catholic school's principal, not any Jew in the community, who drew the conclusion that this was antisemitic. The ADL, usually the first to jump on any perceived antisemitism, says absolutely nothing about this incident. But I suspect there will be a backlash against the Jewish community anyway.

It has been reported that the students of the Catholic school will get some sensitivity training. But I have a bad feeling that this compulsory training will only teach them the message that "those dirty Jews think it's offensive to love Jesus." I doubt any of them will notice that the person who described this as antisemitic, the person who organized the sensitivity training, was their own Catholic principal. Hatred is invulnerable to logic.

News Link:

8 comments:

Matthew said...

I'm taking a religious studies class, and the teacher told us that most Jews find the term "Judeo-Christian" to be offensive, because it seems to imply that Judaism is simply a sect of Christianity.

This seemed strange to me because I've heard several Jews talk about Judeo-Christian values, etc, all the time. Can you shed some light on this for me?

books said...

I don't get where anti-semitism comes from. I am watching this old 60's movie "Esther and the King." There was a.s. around before Jesus came. What's up? I don't get it?

Matthew said...

I once heard someone say that the Jews gave the world an invisible, judgmental god, and the world never forgave them for it.

JB said...

Mr. Rich, I tried to send you an email relating to your website, Judaism101, but I got a message in return saying that you aren't reading emails to the site. So I thought I'd try to contact you this way. I've read most of the material on your website, and I've learned a lot from it. It's very well done. Thank you for putting it on the internet. As I was going through the material, I made a note of any typos that I found. Below is a list of those typos.
_____________________

Ritual Items in the Synagogue

The Torah scrools are placed on the bimah when they are read.

scrolls
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Interfaith Marriages

Certainly, the statistics show that intermarried Jews are overwhelmingly less likely to be involved in Jewish activities: 85% of Jewish couples have or attend a Pesach seder, while only 41% if intermarried Jews do; 66% of Jewish couples fast on Yom Kippur while only 26% if intermarried Jews do; 59% of Jewish couples belong to a synagogue while only 15% of intermarried Jews do.

while only 41% of intermarried

while only 26% of intermarried

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Links to Population Resources

Perhaps the most comprehensive of study of Jewish population, both current and historical, is World Jewish Population 2002, which provides interesting articles and extensive population tables.

comprehensive study
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Who Is a Jew?

While we would certainly prefer that all of our people acknowledged the obligation to observe the unchanging law (just as Conservative Jews would prefer that all of our people acknowledged the right to change the law, and Reform Jews would prefer that all of our people us to acknowledged the right to pick and choose what to observe), we recognize that, as Rabbi Kook said, "That which unites us is far greater than that which divides us."

Reform Jews would prefer that all of our people acknowledged the
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Shabbat Evening Home Ritual/Setting the Table

After lighting, she waives her hands over the candles, welcoming in the sabbath.

waves

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Days of Awe

Basically, you purchase a live fowl, and on the morning before Yom Kippur you waive it over your head reciting a prayer asking that the fowl be considered atonement for sins.

wave

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Arba Minim: The Four Species

The willow, which has neither taste nor scent, represents Jews who have now knowledge of Torah and do not perform the mitvot.

have no knowledge of
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Oral Torah: The Talmud

This tradition was maintained oly in oral form until about the 2d century C.E., when the oral law was compiled and written down in a document called the Mishnah.

maintained only in oral
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Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah

Children do not carry the scrolls (they are much to heavy!), but often follow

much too heavy

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Chanukkah/Traditions

If it lands n Nun, nothing happens; on Gimmel (or, as we called it as kids, "gimme!"), you get the whole pot; on Heh, you get half of the pot; and on Shin, you put one in.

lands on Nun

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Tu B'Shevat

Each tree is considered to have aged one year as of Tu B'Shevat, so if you planted a tree on Shevat 14, it begins it second year the next day, but if you plant a tree two days later, on Shevat 16, it does not reach its second year until the next Tu B'Shevat.

it begins its second year
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Purim

Although there are five books of Jewish scripture that are properly referred to as megillahs (Esther, Ruth, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, and Lamentations), this is the one people usually mean when the speak of The Megillah.

when they speak of The Megillah.

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T'rumah, Tithes and Taxes

402. That an uncircumcised person shall not shall not eat of the t'rumah (heave offering), and the same applies to other holy things.

extra shall not
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613 Mitzvot

411. Not to sell the tithe of the heard (Lev. 27:32-33) (negative).

herd
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613 Mitzvot

527. That one who vows the value of a his house shall pay according to the appraisal of the kohein (Lev. 27:11-13) (affirmative). See Kohein.

value of his house
or
value of a house
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Kosher slaughtering

Another advantage of shechitah is that ensures rapid, complete draining of the blood, which is also necessary to render the meat kosher.

is that it ensures
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Fruits and Vegetables

The Star-K kosher certification organization has a very nice overview of the fruits vegetables prone to this and the procedure for addressing it in each type.

fruits and vegetables
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Jewish Attitudes Towards Sexuality

The requirement of marriage before sex ensures that sense commitment and responsibility.

sense of commitment
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Tzedakah: Charity

A standard mourner's prayer includes a statement that the morner will make a donation to charity in memory of the deceased.

mourner
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Tzedakah: Charity

This is probably hyperbole, but it illustrates importantance of tzedakah in Jewish thought.

importance
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Zachor: To Remember

In Deuteronomy 5:15, while Moses reiterates the Ten Commandments, he notes the second thing that we must remember on Shabbat: "remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the L-rd, your G-d brought you forth from there with a might hand and with an outstretched arm; therefore the L-rd your G-d commanded you to observe the Sabbath day."

mighty
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The Counting of the Omer

You shall count for yourselves -- from the day after the shabbat, from the day when you bring the Omer of the waving -- seven shabbats, they shall be complete. Until the day after te seventh sabbath you shall count, fifty days...

the day after the seventh
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Mezuzah

The scroll is then rolled up placed in the case, so that the first letter of the Name (the letter Shin) is visible (or, more commonly, the letter Shin is written on the outside of the case).

rolled up and placed
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The Role of Women

It has been said that the matriarchs (Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah) were superior to the patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob) in prophesy.

prophecy
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Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai

Vespasian promised that if the prophesy came true, he would grant ben Zakkai's request.

prophecy

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Maror: Bitter Herbs

The maror is dipped charoset, a mixture of apples, nuts, cinnamon and wine, which symbolizes the mortar used by the Jews in building during their slavery.

The maror is dipped in charoset
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The Moshiach

He will be well-versed in Jewish law, and observant of its commandments. (Isaiah 11:2-5) He will be a charismatic leader, inspiring others to follow his example.

parenthetical information outside period
or
needs period of its own
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Olam Ha-Ba: The Messianic Age

Olam Ha-Ba will be characterized by the peaceful co-existence of all people. (Isaiah 2:4) Hatred, intolerance and war will cease to exist.

parenthetical information outside period
or
needs period of its own

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The Month of Elul and Selichot

According to tradition, the month of Elul is the time that Moses spent on Mount Sinai preparing the second set of tablets after the incident of the golden calf. (Ex. 32; 34:27-28) He ascended on

parenthetical information outside period
or
needs period of its own

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613 Mitzvot

566. That the leper shall be universally recognized as such by the prescribed marks So too, all other unclean persons should declare themselves as such (Lev. 13:45) (affirmative).

missing period
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613 Mitzvot

599. To anoint a special kohein (to speak to the soldiers) in a war (Deut. 20:2) (affirmative). . See Kohein.

extra period

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613 Mitzvot

422. Not to expend the proceeds of the second tithe on anything but food and drink (Deut. 26:14) Anything outside of things necessary for sustenance comes within the class in the phrase "Given for the dead" (negative).

missing period

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Extra Day of Holidays

When the new moon was observed, the Sanhedrin declared the beginning of a new month notice sent out messengers to tell people when the month began.

new month and notice was sent out by messengers?

JewFAQ said...

JB: Oh my, many of those typos have been there since the beginning (1995), and nobody's mentioned them before (I was answering mail until 2002).

I'll get on them as soon as I can!

JewFAQ said...

Matthew: It's interesting to me how many politically fashionable teachers take it upon themselves to decide what is offensive to other people. Teachers also tell students that the word "Jew" is offensive. You could have fooled me; I thought it was the correct and convenient term to describe a person of the Jewish persuasion, but what do I know?

The term "Judeo-Christian" is indeed an uncomfortable one at times, though I wouldn't go so far as to say offensive. The problem, fundamentally, is that the term is too often used carelessly to describe things that are purely Christian, with no basis in Judaism.

Judaism and Christianity are very different religions. They share some values, ideas and history (just as both Judaism and Christianity do with Islam), but there are some significant differences, and not just about whether Jesus was the messiah. When non-Jews use the term "Judeo-Christian," they often don't bother to stop and think whether the "Judeo-Christian" thing they are talking about is actually something that Jews and Christians share in common. For example, you will hear people criticize the Iraq war or the situation in Israel as motivated by the Judeo-Christian quest for Armageddon as a prerequisite to redemption... except that Armageddon is a concept that comes out of the Christian scriptures (the Book of Revelation) that really doesn't have an equivalent in Judaism. Not part of the Judeo-Christian tradition at all. On the other side of the coin, you will hear people speak of "love thy neighbor" as a Christian value -- not a Judeo-Christian one -- as if it originated in the New Testament instead of Leviticus 19:18.

The term is a bit less uncomfortable when a Jew uses it, because Jews are more likely to know what is actually part of our tradition, and more likely to know what parts of our tradition didn't make it into Christianity.

JewFAQ said...

Books: that is a very good question. Actually, the Bible records antisemitism back even farther than that, even before the giving of the Torah! The book of Exodus begins with Pharoah ordering the murder of all male Hebrew infants, because he thinks -- without any apparent justification -- that the Hebrews are going to side with his enemies in the event of a war. It's an unjustified accusation that comes up throughout Jewish history: that Jews, who were living under the control of others throughout most of our history, aren't loyal to the country where they live, and will betray their home at the first opportunity. We see this even today, where even educated people buy some absurd slanders about Jewish involvement in 9/11.

Why? I think Matthew may be on the right track: when you don't like the message, you kill the messenger. People don't want to believe that there are objective standards of behavior (never mind that Judaism says most of those standards only apply to Jews), so they kill or oppress the people who say there are standards. And if they succeed in killing or oppressing them... well, that proves that the Jews are wrong, doesn't it? So let's go out and hurt them some more, just to be really sure.

JPvdV said...

"I corrected all the mistakes he mentioned, and I ran the whole site through a spellchecker to catch some more mistakes and to standardize some of my spellings of transliterated Hebew words."

If you would get the R in, that would be almost perfect ;-)
But seriously, reacting to specifically this post: As a goy I never understood why `christians` don`t read their Bible more closely. 1) The Romans killed Jesus 2) He himself prayed for forgiveness for them all from the cross (and they were).
I adhere to a "form" of Christianity that sees Israel as its older brother. You and the Almighty have lots to talk about, if you will, and I'd better keep out of that. So no missionary vision.
If one thing WE should be apologizing not just for all the inequity bestowed on the Jews by `christians`, but for the distance we helped make bigger between the most famous Jew of all time and the rest of His people....