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Love letter to a Zionist: NYU project seeks to bridge Israel divide within Jewish families

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Hi Mum,

I don’t really know how to start this love letter. I love you? (Because I do.) But you know this already.

I am writing this letter to you to connect over our difference […] so that we can cultivate our relationship to greater depth and do the important work of healing.

When Elise Selig came out two years ago, her mother threatened to disown her. Coming out had nothing to do with whom Selig wanted to date; it was about questioning Israel’s politics. When Selig told her mother of her desire to learn Arabic, she responded that she had raised her daughter to be a bad Jew — and that she had failed as a Jewish mother. Since then, Selig, a UC Santa Cruz graduate student, has not rehashed her anti-Zionism with her mother. She also asked to be identified here using a pseudonym.

Selig is critical of Zionism, which has resulted in a chasm of understanding between her and her family. She hopes to bridge this divide and foster productive dialogue by writing a letter to her mother that expresses her feelings as part of the “Love Letter Project” designed by Tammy Kremer, a graduate student at NYU Gallatin’s program for Individualized Studies. The project will result in a collection of published letters from American Jews expressing non or anti-Zionist feelings to loved ones.

In her letter, Selig writes about the Israeli occupation, and the idea of reclaiming her Jewish identity from its association with Zionism. 

I want you to see, so desperately I do, why I am an Anti-Zionist. I want you … to recognize the Occupation for what it is: cultural/economic imperialism, genocide and settler colonialism.

…I know you’ve told me countless times that there are never too many “I love you’s” to share. That’s a hopeful thought; I believe that. But what about the way I say it? The following letter is exploding with I love yous, but they may look a little different. Instead of “I love you,” it may be words like “collective liberation” or “reclamation.” Will you watch out for them? (I love you.)

During her own political coming out last January, Kremer grappled with how to communicate her political ideas to her family and identified a need for models that non or anti-Zionist Jewish Americans can look to when formulating their own coming out strategies. In October, The Pew Research Center of U.S. Jews published that three-quarters (76%) of Jews who say their religion is Jewish are very or somewhat emotionally attached to Israel as a Jewish state.  Jews who identify as non- or anti-Zionists are a minority.

Many Zionists view non- or anti- Zionist perspectives as “some forceful, flag-burning big scary thing,” Kremer said. She hopes that her project, on the other hand, will serve as a model for Jewish Americans to express their sentiments non-violently, intimately and with love. 

When Selig received an email about Kremer’s project, she immediately recognized its importance. She wished that something like the project had existed when she came out to her family. Letter writing is a good method because it’s a nonviolent method and it speaks to emotions,” Selig said. “Setting the intention, sitting down and imaging a particular person on the receiving end of it will be very productive for me.”

Ever since I can remember, you have cried, laughed, and found groundedness in your Zionist Jewish identity. I can connect to the fact that you believe in something so profoundly and deeply it inspires in you tears at the thought of it. I think tears of such inspiration can be beautiful. But no matter how beautiful tears can be they can also distort visibility. 

As a kid, Selig believes her perception was distorted too. She grew up learning Zionist songs and hearing Zionist rhetoric from teachers, classmates and family members who promoted Israel as a tenet of Jewish identity. It was not until college that she started questioning Israel’s politics: government discrimination toward Arabs, the occupation of land in the West Bank and Gaza, the settler movement in which Jews are illegally building communities in the West Bank. She felt disgusted by what she perceived as her family’s racism and ignorance toward Arabs and Arab culture. Her family, Selig said, is “all about tolerance and very liberal ideologies.” That these values couldn’t be enacted in regard to Israel, Selig said, was her wake-up call. 

I want you to understand that to me, being an anti-Zionist Jew in this moment, in this place, at this time means choosing to see the realities of our collective situation. It means waking up each day and committing myself to the work of unlearning.

…Can you not see the politics of your love affair? Can you not see the ways in which the rhetoric of your life and love of Israel are exploited for the benefit of the few you have so much disdain and sadness for? It is wrong for your Judaism to be exploited in such a way.

Selig says her mother was raised in a secular Jewish home and doesn’t know the Hebrew prayers. In her 20s, she moved to Israel where she worked on a kibbutz, a collective community based on agriculture, for two years. Almost everyone in Selig’s family has a deep, personal connection to Israel. “I think my grandparents feel a little guilty for not remembering more of the Yiddish and rituals their parents taught them,” she said. “Supporting Israel is a way for them to feel Jewish.”

One time, Selig questioned Israeli politics during a conversation with her uncle. “I just remember him all of a sudden being an inch from my face screaming at me and his spit was all over— It spackled my glasses,” Selig said. “My cousin had to pull him off of me and we avoided sitting next to each other for a while.” 

The meaning of Zionism often differs, even among Jews. Writing to me by email, Dr. Robert Alter, professor of Literature and Founding Director of the Center for Jewish Studies at UC Berkeley, said Zionism is “the idea that the Land of Israel is the historic homeland of the Jewish people, open to all Jews who want or need to come, and that the Jewish people has the right to exercise political autonomy in that land.” Zach Stern, a program manager at the Zionist Organization of America, wrote that Zionism is central to Judaism. “To be anti-Zionist,” he said, “is an aspect of being anti-Jewish.” Stern said that any Jew who prays or follows “just about any Jewish custom” such as breaking a glass at their wedding or praying facing Jerusalem partakes in acts of Zionism. To Selig, to be anti-Zionist is just the opposite. While her family’s unyielding Zionism, she believes, stems from a desire to access their Jewishness, Selig feels that Zionism exploits Jewish values by enacting violence, discrimination and intolerance based on race.

Selig decided to write the letter because she is better at writing than speaking, she said. She hopes that it will show others that it is possible to talk about “the hard stuff.” She hopes that the writing process will help her reflect on her own feelings about Israel, and that her mother would receive it as an act of love and an investment in their relationship.

Mum, you may also know, connecting across moving difference is critical to the pursuit of Justice. Let us then together toast: L’chaim! Here’s to Justice with a capital “J”. Ttzedek tzedek tirdof.  [Justice, justice you will pursue] 

…Being an anti-Zionist Jew means knowing that my liberation is inherently intertwined in everyone else’s liberation. And that work begins with healing my relationship with you. I love you.

But she hasn’t sent the letter yet. Selig submitted a copy to Kremer last month, but is still debating whether or not she will send it to her mother.

Kremer will debut the letters on April 16th at NYU’s “–ISM Showcase” in an audio piece. At the showcase, audience members will be invited to consider a topic that they care deeply about and a person they love that has a very different perspective on the issue. They will be encouraged to write them a love letter. Kremer will distribute the piece in other contexts as well. To contribute your own love letter, contact Kremer at [email protected].

About Shaina Shealy

Shaina Shealy is a journalist and photographer from Birmingham, Alabama. She has a background in international development, non-profit advocacy, and craft and textile production as catalysts of social and economic empowerment of women worldwide. Shaina has a MA of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies from Hebrew University in Jerusalem. She currently studies Multimedia Journalism and Arabic language at UC Berkeley.

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53 Responses

  1. just
    April 16, 2015, 4:17 pm

    What an astoundingly brilliant project! Sincere kudos to Ms. Kremer and to all that are contributing their love letters. I hope that Elise Selig found some relief from writing it, and that she’ll be able to send it one day to her Mum.

    Thanks for sharing it here, Shaina.

    • Mooser
      April 17, 2015, 11:00 am

      An inheritance is a gift. Always remember that .
      Many people seem to be confused about the legal obligations connected with legacies and family. A person may leave their leavings, or not, to anybody or any institution they please, and they are not obligated to even their first child or children in this way.

      Be nice to your parents, kids. If a person is competent and the will is made out correctly, and no later will can be found or even postulated, wills are very hard to break. The wishes of the decedent are the prime determiner, not the needs of the family. And make sure, if you can. Spoken intentions made later (say, after a love letter softens them up) do not invalidate a written will.
      That’s the way I understand it. Of course, I’m still alive, so I’m hardly an expert.

      • RockyMissouri
        April 17, 2015, 12:02 pm

        Nicely stated! Thank you..

  2. MHughes976
    April 16, 2015, 5:56 pm

    I don’t quite see how differences in the meaning of Zionism are illustrated by the remarks of Alter and Stern. Both give political rights to people who are Jewish in culture which seem not to be shared with anyone else. There could be different ideas, of course, but this fairly strong basic claim seems to be necessary if what has actually been done is to be justified.
    There’s some rather strange wording: we don’t usually call sovereign states autonomous but independent – autonomy usually applies to regions with certain privileges and I don’t think Alter would be satisfied with that.
    And Ms. Selig surely doesn’t mean that authentic Jewish morality can be exploited by those of violent disposition?

    • pabelmont
      April 16, 2015, 9:11 pm

      MH: Many have said that Israel created a “new Jew”. A warrior Jew. Well, perhaps. But perhaps Israel transformed a bunch of people formerly labelled as Jews into something new and not Jewish, namely “Israeli-Jews.” The hideous racism and cruelty, from 1945 onward, is inescapable and not a bit like the Jews I know in USA.

      I think the range of world-views among diaspora Jews includes some carefully-kept-secret horrendously racist Jews-are-human-and-the-rest-are-not world-views, especially among Jews with strong associations with ancient Judaisms. But the more modern strands are quite different and the letters of this project seem (I imagine) intended to be sent to modern Jews (reformed especially).

      We’ve seen ISIS pop out of a broad and diverse Islamic culture as extremists. We’ve seen some very intolerant and absolutist opinions among American Christians, though I think not the violence we’ve seen from Israeli-Jews and ISIS. It appears that dreadful conditions (but what are the dreadful conditions that modelled intolerant and absolutist American Christians ? losing the civil war adn losing the civil rights movement?) can produce violent, racist, I’m-the-top-of-the-world-and-to-Hell-with-you “religious” spin-offs. It’s not only Jews who’ve experienced or too deeply imagined they’ve experienced pogroms and holocaust who go haywire.

      But the letters are going I think to “moderate” Jews only a bit brainwashed. Ought to be effective, because they love and respect their kids.

      • Mooser
        April 17, 2015, 11:08 am

        “Ought to be effective, because they love and respect their kids.”

        Let’s hope so. If I am not mistaken, how much a person inherits has a lot to do with where they end up economically in the good ol’ USA..

    • yonah fredman
      April 18, 2015, 5:18 pm

      MHughes- Robert Alter was not defining his brand of Zionism. He was defining the minimal definition of Zionism. Was Judah Magnes a Zionist according to Alter’s definition? Not sure. Maybe Magnes’s concept of a binational confederation would not have fit Alter’s definition. But to say. “I don’t think Alter would be satisfied with that” is first of all, unseemly, because you don’t know anything about Alter’s stand on Zionism, but also irrelevant, because he was not defining his own brand, but the minimal definition.

      • MHughes976
        April 18, 2015, 6:15 pm

        I have indeed formed the impression, from occasional reading, that Professor Alter, who is famous as a Bible interpreter, considers himself a Zionist or at least considers himself as one who over the years and indeed decades has defended Israel as constituted by Zionism: if I’m wrong, let me know. He seems to have been consulted as a Zionist by Ms. Shealy.
        I’d really be surprised – wouldn’t you? – if he really treats the term ‘ Zionism’ as referring to a belief that there are Jewish rights which demand that at least there be autonomous Jewish regions, presumably with a sovereign Whole Palestine where, as far as the Whole is concerned, no racial or religious group is privileged.
        That would require, I’d suggest, another term for the stronger claim that there ought to be an independent and sovereign Jewish state, ‘super-Zionism’ perhaps. But no such term is mentioned.
        I’d agree that the claim to autonomous areas would tend in the minimalist direction – that is true – but I’d also think that if you push the definition so far towards the minimal it is threatened with contradiction in terms, in that the apparently un-shared or exclusive nature of Jewish rights seems to conflict with the presumed equal rights of non-Jews in Palestine as a whole.
        It might be rather pernickety to object to your term ‘minimal definition’ – I do see what you mean – but in an important sense definitions are not in themselves minimal or maximal, only exact or inexact. The definition of a maximalist or aggressive claim is not in itself a maximal or aggressive definition.

      • Mooser
        April 18, 2015, 6:33 pm

        “but in an important sense definitions are not in themselves minimal or maximal, only exact or inexact.”

        Thanks. Just because somebody offers you a fist-full of pilpuls it doesn’t mean you have to swallow them.

      • yonah fredman
        April 18, 2015, 7:08 pm

        MHughes- Thanks for clarifying your familiarity with Alter’s scholarship and defense of Israel on previous occasions.

        Was Judah Magnes a Zionist? Was Buber a Zionist?

        A definition is either accurate or inaccurate might not apply to an ideological term. What is the definition of a believing Jew? One who believes that God and the Jews have a special relationship? One who believes that the Torah is word for word dictated by God? One who believes that God gave Moses both the oral law and the written law? One who believes in the resurrection of the dead and the other 12 dogma delineated by Maimonides?

        But back to Zionist. If one opposed the Nakba or voted in favor (in the cabinet) of letting the refugees back in, did that make one not a Zionist? I think precision is not necessarily a useful term in regards to ideologies and minimal versus maximalism is precisely the best way of relating to a definition.

        of course definitions are not the be all and end all. ultimately Israel’s actions will be judged rather than the validity of Zionism as an ideology of uncertain definition.

      • Mooser
        April 20, 2015, 9:24 pm

        “Was Judah Magnes a Zionist? Was Buber a Zionist?”

        Blah, blah, blah. Yonah, yesterday Hophmi, your pal, told us that Yitzak Rabin was not a Zionist. (He was one of the few “non-Zionist killed”. You figure it out what that is supposed to mean.)

        Who gives a husky f–k who you consider a Zionist or not. Zionism is the sum of it’s actions, not the sum of its rhetorical evasions.

  3. pabelmont
    April 16, 2015, 6:26 pm

    Wonderful project!

    I hope that they all find the courage to send the letters. Or to send the book of all of everybody’s letters.

    A huge slice of a generation is represented in these letters, and probably many manners of relationships to family.

    I just love this project. “Coming out” was never so necessary or so nicely done.

  4. Mooser
    April 17, 2015, 10:52 am

    “When Elise Selig came out two years ago, her mother threatened to disown her. Coming out had nothing to do with whom Selig wanted to date; it was about questioning Israel’s politics.”

    That’s what I said the other day. Where there’s a will, there’s a way!
    I’m pretty sure we will see this tactic suggested soon by competent authorities. Especially when there is someone else, something else which deserves the benefit of a generous legacy much more than those rotten kids.

  5. Vera Gottlieb
    April 17, 2015, 3:33 pm

    I went through many emails discussing the Gaza situation again and again. To no avail. I finally told my family that I didn’t not care to associate with family or friend who supported what the Zionists are doing to Palestinians. End of relationship.

    • just
      April 17, 2015, 4:19 pm

      I’m sorry for you, Vera. ;-(

      It’s their loss.

      • Mooser
        April 17, 2015, 4:48 pm

        “It’s their loss.”

        Weeeell, as we were discussing, it can work both ways.

      • bintbiba
        April 17, 2015, 6:10 pm

        You hung on to your integrity, Vera !
        This , in the end , is what makes life a mixture of the sweet and the very bitter.
        But in the end …you are the winner.
        Be proud of who you are and who you will remain.

    • echinococcus
      April 18, 2015, 4:54 am

      That’s exactly as it’s supposed to be. Nothing to be sorry about.
      The only somewhat effective way to go about it is to shun Zionists. Ex-friends and family may have emotional ties but the reason we support, say, the Palestinians is that we have managed to transcend loyalties and prefer justice to tribe.
      That’s why these letters are strange, to say the least. And their chance of getting to anything positive is nil except if sent to someone who already was almost convinced to oppose Zionism.

  6. Shmuel
    April 17, 2015, 4:59 pm

    Every relationship is different, but mine would simply be devastated by such open confrontation. Then again, we’re a rather reserved lot. Nuance, silence, and compartmentalisation are the best we’ve managed to come up with so far.

    • just
      April 17, 2015, 5:02 pm

      ;-)

      At least there’s no isolation nor disowning…

      • Mooser
        April 17, 2015, 6:15 pm

        Well, as I have stated, disowning one’s own children is a very serious subject, on which there is little guidance. That’s what I have stated. Very few can deny that.
        It is something many people are confused about. As an example, some people are under the impression that their assets must be left to one’s issue, that there is a legal obligation to leave them to an anti-zionist son or daughter instead of, say, a fund for inter-faith conferences on Middle Eastern problems. This is not so, and I feel some guidance in this area will be forthcoming from Jewish community leaders.

      • Mooser
        April 19, 2015, 11:02 am

        “At least there’s no isolation nor disowning…”

        Well, sometimes you don’t know that until the will is read.

    • Mooser
      April 17, 2015, 6:29 pm

      “Every relationship is different, but mine would simply be devastated by such open confrontation.”

      Yes, I don’t think my folks would have dis-inherited me after an open confrontation over my anti-zionism. They had too many good reasons to do it without arguing over anything that complex.

      It’s too bad, too. My father was a shoemaker, and I hoped he would leave me his awl.

    • Mooser
      April 21, 2015, 11:40 am

      ” Nuance, silence, and compartmentalisation are the best we’ve managed to come up with so far.”

      Not like my family at all. Why, when I was set to marry a non-Jewish woman, my Mom said: ” Don’t worry about rent, you can come and live in my house”. Even tho there wasn’t really enough room. I thank God still today she had an all-electric kitchen.

  7. joer
    April 17, 2015, 7:14 pm

    Some of these letters read like they are part of an intervention or like a mental health worker trying to talk some nut off a ledge. Therapy may work here and there, but it won’t solve the root of problem…besides Israel offers fellowship and hugs to soldiers who are traumatized after shooting up a soccer field…it’s kind of the same type of thing.

    One thing I don’t understand when I read these confessions from former Zionists is that they were all so captivated by the dream until they found out about the Palestinians. I always thought the whole thing was kind of weird even before I understood the issue. I thought of my neighbors and relatives who were really into Israel as if they were in some kind of odd but harmless subculture-like Civil War reenactments or Star Trek Conventions. Israel itself seemed like some kind of Spartan Catskills retreat where part of the fun was that you could help dig latrines and clear rocks off the desert while Arabs were shooting at you. I know now all about the Nakba and the other side of the story, but I still don’t understand why so many people find this dream so inspiring and are so devastated at the thought it may be a lie.

    • echinococcus
      April 18, 2015, 5:03 am

      Has there been some kind of study about why some fall for the bullshit peddled by their parents and others just don’t? I never believed the stuff about God or the other bs about us being a different nation. The latter was harder to believe, in fact. Would be interesting to see at least some analysis with the proportion of kids who just don’t fall for it.

      • Shmuel
        April 18, 2015, 6:10 am

        Hi echinococcus,

        It’s not just parents, of course, but a far broader social environment (more so in Orthodox communities or in Israel — my own experience). Evolution has taught humans group cohesion as a survival strategy. That’s a pretty tough instinct to mess with (although what was good for hunting woolly mammoths may be bad for geopolitics).

        Tzvia Thier (Phil’s done a series of posts on/by her) mentions “following my daughters” and the fact that her husband is behind her 100%. I’ve also noticed, in my local Jewish anti-Zionist group, that members seem to come in pairs (couples or siblings). I guess we need that kind of support.

        I actually feel that I took what I was taught at home, school and synagogue to its logical conclusion — even if it was not quite what parents, teachers and rabbis had in mind. My siblings drew other conclusions — perhaps no closer than mine to our parents’ intentions, but without crossing dichotomous religious and nationalist lines (“with us or against us”), which seems to make all the difference.

      • Mooser
        April 18, 2015, 12:20 pm

        “Tzvia Thier (Phil’s done a series of posts on/by her) mentions “following my daughters” and the fact that her husband is behind her 100%.

        Yes, yes! I got several pounds of nachos from that! Wonderful, and nobody gets disowned.

      • echinococcus
        April 18, 2015, 1:29 pm

        Shmuel, re supportive families I’ll enthusiastically co-sign what Mooser writes (much simpler than trying to write stuff of much poorer quality) but that is not necessarily a result of talking and persuading or any of these things. It’s much more probably due to the fact that parents and offspring will have some affinities in their way of thinking, and one cannot easily stay married many years with someone who doesn’t share one’s values.
        That’s why, in fact, I wrote I would like to see percentages of believers and non-believers in opposition to their dominant environment.

      • Mooser
        April 19, 2015, 10:57 am

        “Shmuel, re supportive families I’ll enthusiastically co-sign what Mooser writes”

        Thanks! I always like extra cheese on my nachos.

      • Mooser
        April 19, 2015, 12:45 pm

        “That’s why, in fact, I wrote I would like to see percentages of believers and non-believers”

        ‘Believers and non-believers” in which particular denomination, sect, or way of being Jewish?
        A person can only believe or disbelieve in the Judaism he/she knows.

      • echinococcus
        April 19, 2015, 4:19 pm

        Mooser, that “believers” was a misunderstandable shortcut for kids who from the start don’t fall for the nationalist/zionist indoctrination

      • Mooser
        April 19, 2015, 9:55 pm

        “misunderstandable shortcut for kids who from the start don’t fall for the nationalist/zionist indoctrination”

        Of course. Point taken. I was just musing on how many different Judaisms there are. As far as thinking about the relationships and history between the different strains and sects, I hope I never find out any more than I know, which is scary enough.

      • echinococcus
        April 19, 2015, 10:40 pm

        Shmuel,
        As you said, that applies more to Israel and any ghettoized environment. People with no religious belief who don’t subscribe to a nationhood nonsense will develop a diverse network (unless others classify them so as in WWII Germany); if they forcefully oppose Zionism that often will cool down family ties. So I suppose tribe solidarity in that sense belongs to the times of the woolly mammoth.

      • Shmuel
        April 20, 2015, 2:57 am

        People with no religious belief who don’t subscribe to a nationhood nonsense will develop a diverse network…. So I suppose tribe solidarity in that sense belongs to the times of the woolly mammoth.

        We won’t get rid of our need of a pack that easily. As you say, people who are less ghettoised develop other networks. Palestine solidarity is also a tribe.

      • echinococcus
        April 20, 2015, 10:04 am

        Shmuel,
        An organization for a political cause that requires strict discipline and dedication of one’s very life might be called a “tribe” in that sense, like a communist party of yore. That’s obviously not the case with Palestine solidarity, a totally loose association for a single, punctual purpose with people with whom we may have absolutely nothing else to share. The individual principle of European thinking, its recent social disruption and our multiracial/multicultural character also produced a large number of people without national or ethnic “roots” and loyalties, which are not comparable to the intersecting personal networks and friends by personal choice. Jettisoning loyalty to family and wider circles one cannot live peaceably with has become easy.

      • Shmuel
        April 20, 2015, 10:27 am

        True enough, echinococcus, but the fact remains that we still need support, belonging and approval. In that sense, we have not changed all that much since the days of the woolly mammoth. We find surrogates for our “tribe” but, as a rule, we don’t go it alone.

      • Mooser
        April 20, 2015, 12:35 pm

        “An organization for a political cause that requires strict discipline and dedication of one’s very life might be called a “tribe” in that sense, like a communist party of yore.”

        “echinococcus” (excuse me for asking, but is that a Jewish name?) I think you are leaving out one very important factor. That “strict discipline and dedication” you talk about? They have no way to compel it! At some point, the demands of the project, whether it’s building the Soviet State or Jewish State, go beyond what can be assured by volunteerism. Or what can be comfortably balanced, say, with their feelings as American citizens. They can beg, they can whine, they can threaten, but the Zionists cannot compel American Jews to do anything.

        When Elise Selig came out two years ago, her mother threatened to disown her”

        Heck, the worst possible threat has already been mentioned, in the first sentence, and impresses nobody. Does anybody really believe their parents would disown them (and give the money to the IDF pizza fund, I guess) merely because they happened to be anti-zionist? Nobody even took that one seriously.

      • echinococcus
        April 20, 2015, 3:17 pm

        Mooser,

        It’s when it obtains obedience without even having to compel it that a tribe is at its tribest, if you see what I mean. Once you can jail or fine people instead of the old emotional blackmail routine, you aren’t a tribe, just a common-or-garden government.

        excuse me for asking, but is that a Jewish name?

        Et tu, Brute?
        All right, all right, I give up!
        I’m changing it to Goldberg. Or Goldstein. Or Goldfinger.
        Can you recommend a Lithuanian rabbi to rebaptize me? Mine has an Arabic name like me.

      • Mooser
        April 20, 2015, 3:57 pm

        ” Mine has an Arabic name like me.”
        Ah, so “echinococcus” is an Arabic name, and a very nice one, too. I should have one as nice.
        Anyway, for American Jews, Zionism has been pretty much a win-win. Let’s see what happens when it begins to cost them something. It doesn’t really have to do anything more than go out of fashion.

      • RoHa
        April 20, 2015, 10:37 pm

        “It doesn’t really have to do anything more than go out of fashion.”

        Ah, fashion.

        “One unbecoming fashion is now almost universal: namely, shaving the hair from the upper part of the head, in a circular form, so as to leave only an outer ring. The missionaries have tried to persuade the people to change this habit; but it is the fashion, and that is a sufficient answer at Tahiti, as well as at Paris.”
        (Charles Darwin, The Voyage of the Beagle, Chap. 18)

        What folly will people not commit, what nonsense not proclaim, be it but fashionable!

        They will bear absurdities upon their heads and impracticalities upon their bodies.

        They will pierce their persons, and fill the holes with ugly ironmongery.

        They will undergo Primal Scream Therapy, and declaim the doctrines of Man Made Global Warming, regardless of scientific evidence or even basic good sense.

        They will use and excuse bad grammar and worse logic.

        They will use Facebook and Twitter.

        They will eat sushi!

        “Mit die Mode kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens”, as Schiller almost said.

      • Mooser
        April 21, 2015, 10:50 am

        “We won’t get rid of our need of a pack that easily.”

        I love dogs, but I’d rather be a man than a dog. A man can stand entirely on his own, and entirely alone when he has to.

      • Mooser
        April 21, 2015, 11:28 am

        “Ah, fashion.”

        RoHa, you’ve probably read as many of their comments as I have. Do you think they think any more deeply about Zionism than they do whether to grow a pony tail or shave their head? Or why they no longer wear “flares”?
        I don’t think they do. Zionism is in fashion. Ten years from now, I have a strong feeling very few American Jews will admit they ever were Zionist! Do you brag about once wearing “leisure suits”? Except, of course, to congratulate themselves for leaving it or bastinado themselves for ever believing it.

      • Mooser
        April 21, 2015, 11:53 am

        “Would be interesting to see at least some analysis with the proportion of kids who just don’t fall for it.”

        It’s not that cut-and-dried. Look how many articles there are at Mondo telling about people who fell for it heavily- til they didn’t! And sometimes, those who “fell for it” so completely become the most committed activists against it.

      • Mooser
        April 21, 2015, 11:57 am

        Certainly wouldn’t be the first time that something which really amounted to no more than a fashion, whim, or fad, or fraud in the first-world countries wreaked death and destruction in less fortunate parts of the world.

  8. jon s
    April 18, 2015, 4:52 pm

    Shmuel,
    (I also missed your comments here, glad to see you’re back…)

    I grew up in an extended family, which ranged , politically, from communists to right-wing Zionists and ,religiously, from atheists to haredim. There were constant debates, but , as you say, without crossing certain lines.
    Amos and Fania Oz, in their recent book “Jews and Words” say that what keeps us together is that we’re constantly arguing (my paraphrase) – and they may have a point.

  9. lonely rico
    April 20, 2015, 8:16 pm

    >Mooser

    an Arabic name, and a very nice one, too. I should have one as nice.

    Kind Mooser, an ancient and noble name, of Algonquian (some say Narragansett) origin, not to be belittled.

    That being said, “el Mooser” has a soupcon of the exotic that the original perhaps lacks.

    • Mooser
      April 21, 2015, 11:09 am

      That being said, “el Mooser” has a soupcon of the exotic that the original perhaps lacks.”

      Actually, the origin of the name is quite prosaic. By the time my great ancestor got off the boat at Ellis Island, all of his steerage-mates (more likely he was a stowaway) were calling him “That lousy moser!” The clerk added an extra “o”, not being familiar with Yiddish imprecations.
      Balebatisheh yiden we are not.
      Actually, I’m very lucky my last name isn’t “Gonifson”.

      • Mooser
        April 21, 2015, 5:31 pm

        Not, of course, that being taken for a Norwegian ancestry person is any disadvantage up here.

  10. Mooser
    April 22, 2015, 3:47 pm

    Of course, wearing all the CCsking gear and carrying skis and poles in mid-summer is just about as much hassle as trying to stuff a caftan into a set of bike leathers.
    It’s a crazy world, all the things we have to do to be accepted.

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