Chronicle of Rabbi Josef Germaine: Jew – Judaism, part II
By RABBI JOSEF GERMAINE
I received a number of responses to my last post, most of which requested additional information. I will make use of a resource that most suits contains information going back to the creation itself. Yes, I am talking about the Bible, a source in which many place great trust, as to its veracity when compared to history, to the universal laws protecting humanity and in particular and above all, to faith in one God. .
Isaiah 1:18: “Come now, let us reason together, saith the Lord. Though your sins be as scarlet they shall become white as snow, if they are as red as purple they shall become like wool.”
Clearly, as free agents, we have the power and blessing to reason with even the highest authority.
Genesis 18:23-25: “Abraham came forward and said (to God) will you sweep away the innocent with the guilty? not forgive him for the good of the 50 innocent people who are there? Far be it from you to do such a thing.”…”
We are therefore going to embark on a path paved with real reason.
As I mentioned in my first article, I will include in support of my overview or analysis, my experience; therefore, take my hand and let us go back a number of years. It was at an outdoor mall in California that I decided to get my hair cut. It was my first time there, and a young woman, a stylist, approached me and asked me to sit down. Almost immediately, for what reason escapes me, she asked me my nationality.
I answered simply, an American. No, she replied, I mean from what background, your family. Instinctively, I knew what she was referring to – but decided to play the silly game. I replied, “Let’s see – from my mother’s side, Poland and from my father’s side, Austria. But, why do you ask?”
“Oh, well, I’m Irish.”
“Oh, you mean you were born and raised in Ireland, you are an Irish citizen.”
“No, just my family.”
“Oh,” I say. “Well let me ask you a question, if you were to travel on holiday in Europe and someone there were to ask you your nationality, what would you say?”
“Oh, I would say American, of course.”
“So in Europe you’re American but here you’re Irish.”
My first answer, what do you really want to know, am I Italian, Irish or Jewish. Many people confuse cultural orientation or origin with national identity. However, many see being Jewish as a nationality and a religion, one and the same. I met many Russian Jews whose Russian citizenship ID cards were stamped Jewish as their nationality. Fortunately, that is not the case here. At a rally, a young Russian Jewish immigrant approached me and asked, “Why do they call me Jewish in Russia, but here they call me Russian?”
So, dear reader, for reasons that I don’t know – but that have been imposed on me – many consider Judaism both as a religion and as a nationality and a race in its own right.
Genesis 1:26: And God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…” 1:27: “And God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female He created them.”
Therefore, let us reason together the scripture tells us that one man and one woman were created by the Creator, to teach us that we are all descendants of Adam, one race, the human race. Anyone who says otherwise, by definition, is a racist.
The Holocaust is extreme racism. I’m concerned about how many people are still vindictive of Whoopie Goldberg’s faux pas. But that’s another phenomenon I’ll talk about another time, how many feel a surge of energy, the power to bring a cause celebre to a person of renowned status, to demean such a person to reinforce their lack of identity or of self-esteem.
In conclusion, the words Jew, Jew never appear in the Bible. There are references, Hebrews (Ivrim in Hebrew), Israelites from the word Israel, the alternative name of Jacob, one of the patriarchs and father of the 12 tribes of Israel. Even in the time of Jesus there was no nationalized religion, only followers of the Mosaic faith. In the final analysis and by the will of God, we are all members of the same family; let’s be good to each other.
Rabbi Josef Germaine is a professional lyric tenor who has been a concert recitalist, cantor, vocal coach and rabbi. He earned his bachelor’s degree in music and a master’s degree in Hebrew education. He lives in Sumter and is a member of Temple Sinai. Contact him at [email protected]