Young, Jewish and Proud – Time to Make Room at the TablePosted: November 9, 2010
Here is some video of yesterday’s incident at the Jewish Federation GA.
After watching this clip this morning, my wife Hallie and I had a long conversation about it. Though I was eager to talk about its political/Jewish communal implications, she responded to it more as a parent of teenagers.
As she put it, “As parents, what kinds of values do we want to impart to our kids? Don’t we always say we want them to educated, to be critical thinkers, and to stand up for what they believe in? And even if we don’t approve of the places their critical thinking take them, what, are we going to disown them because we don’t agree with them?”
Take a close look at this clip and pay particular attention to the reaction of the audience in the hall. It would be quite an understatement to say the crowd disapproved of what these young people were saying. Frankly, it was something of a miracle that any of them made it out of that room in one piece.
But as Hallie pointed out to me, these young Jews were doing precisely what they were raised to do: they took a good, educated look around them, they thought critically about what they saw, and they took a stand for what they believed in. And for this they are being disowned by their Jewish family.
I’m sure many will be tempted to say, “Well, I don’t disapprove of what they said, just how they said it.”
Yes, we parents often say things like that, don’t we? I’m pretty sure that many white parents said similar things when their children joined the Freedom Riders to protest oppression and to show solidarity with oppressed African Americans. I imagine many of their parents disapproved of their actions. But at the end of the day weren’t these young people ultimately just acting upon the values that had long been instilled in them?
I certainly have no illusions that there were also many young people in that room cheering on Netanyahu – young adults who have been given a place at the Jewish communal table. But believe me when I tell you that there are many, many young Jews who have been kept away from the table – but who refuse to walk away. And frankly, given the extent of their alienation we should be grateful that they even seek a place at all any more.
The Jewish community is reaching a serious reckoning point. Trust me, those five young people in that hall are only the tip of the iceberg. They are growing in number, they are rapidly finding their voice, and as their new moniker indicates, they are “young, Jewish and proud.” And regardless of whether we agree what they are saying, we should be proud of them. It’s time to act like grownups, stop marginalizing them, and make room for them at the table.
Click here and read the “Young, Jewish and Proud” manifesto. What beautiful, beautiful words. I couldn’t be prouder of these young people if they were my own children.