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March 03, 1995 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1995-03-03

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Editor's Notebook


Cutting The Toikey
And Other Bad Habits

It May Not Be P.
Boys Will Be Boys



As we all know,
sequels are im-
How could we
have gone on not
knowing what
happened to
Michael Corleone
(even if it did
- mean seeing Sofia
Coppola play his daughter in
Godfather III)? And what think-
ing man would have been able
to function without keeping up
to date on all the profound ac-
tivities at the Police Academy
or on Chevy Chase's vacation?
If it's good enough for Holly-
wood, it's good enough for the
newspaper. Back, by popular de-
mand, things that get on my
As you may recall when last
we met I had raised some of
those things that make me want
to shiver all the way down to my
Mary Jane shoes: Jews who say
"shvartze," for example, and
families who are going to "raise
our children as Christians and
Jews, and then let them decide
what to be."
Perhaps you thought five was
enough. But more likely — if
you're someone with any brains
at all — those five left you beg-
ging for more.
At last, they are here.
No. 6) "Cardiac Jews." I
picked this great phrase up from
a Reform rabbi I like a great
deal. We were sitting together
at the wedding of a mutual
friend. A woman at the same
table was discussing her reli-
gious leanings — or lack of
them. She didn't actually do
anything Jewish, she explained.
She certainly didn't want to
keep kosher. She had no inter-
est in any social-action pro-
grams. Her son had no bar
mitzvah ceremony and she and
her husband never seemed to
get around to lighting candles
Friday night. But "I know in my
heart that I'm Jewish," she said.
"And that's what really counts."
My quick-witted friend the
rabbi paused for only a moment
before responding: "Oh, I see.
It's all in your heart. You're a
`cardiac Jew.' "
Good grief— there are a mil-
lion opportunities in Judaism to
do something, anything. Call
your rabbi, call your congrega-
tion, call your favorite Jewish
institution. But remember that
Judaism is a way of life, a reli-
gion that calls for action. Imag-
ine this: If I see someone hit by
a car, it's fine and dandy if I feel
his pain. But for crying out loud,
if I don't call an ambulance he's
going to die. Would anyone care
then what I felt?
No. 7) The myth of the "Or-
thodox uncle," or father, or

grandparents, or some other rel-
ative who has been dead for
It's amazing. You start talk-
ing to people and you find out
everybody on the face of the
planet, from Jerry Falwell to
Shaquille O'Neal, has fond
memories of "my Orthodox un-
I have some news for you, my
friends. Immigrants generally
were more traditional in their
observance of Judaism, but by
no means were they all Ortho-
It seems people apply the
term to anyone who was not af-
filiated with the Reform move-
ment in the first part of the
century. Yet a number of new
immigrants, who were not Re-
form, kept only the barest bones
of Jewish tradition — perhaps
they didn't eat ham or work on
Shabbat. Maybe by today's stan-
dards such actions are consid-
ered "really Orthodox," but
certainly just not eating ham or
working on Shabbat does not be-
gin to define the lives of obser-
vant Jews today.

It's been
some time since
we feared the

If your uncle kept kosher in
and out of the house, was
shomer Shabbat and his wife
went to the mikvah, talk to me
about Orthodox Judaism. If not,
take a closer look at your fami-
ly history.
No. 8) Jews who call other
Jews "Nazis."
It happened to me just the
other day, and I can't begin to
tell you how offended I was.
The caller was upset with an
opinion piece that ran in the pa-
per — not even something I
wrote — and when I defended
the writer's right to express his
views, the caller labeled me a
"You're a Nazi and everybody
at that paper is a Nazi," he said.
I confess the Holocaust is
something of an obsession with
me. I think about it. I talk about
it. I write about it. I was sick
that anyone angry about a
newspaper article, for crying out
loud, would compare Jews to the
likes of Hitler, Eichmann,
Himmler and Goebbels.
Furthermore, I have family
members who survived the
Holocaust. Imagine what pain
it would cause them to hear the
word "Nazi" used so casually.

No. 9) Jews who are afraid "of
what the goyim will say."
First of all they are not "goy-
im," they're gentiles. And I am
not afraid of them.
In Europe, there's no question
Jews were persecuted daily and
likely felt they had no option but
to keep a low profile (though did
this save them from the Cos-
sacks or the Nazis?).
But here in the United States,
Jews lead a safe, secure exis-
tence. Gentiles are our friends
and neighbors, and I do not be-
lieve that the vast majority of
them care one iota about a po-
litical scandal in Israel or
whether a certain Jewish leader
supposedly is bringing his en-
tire organization down.
They are intelligent individ-
uals who realize that Jews are
human beings like everybody
else, and one scandal does not
define the entire Jewish com-
Yet how many times do I
hear, "You can't talk about that.
What would the goyim say?"
What I want to know is not
what the gentiles think but
what we ourselves, the Jewish
community, can do about the
problem. Our first, and only,
concern should be, "Why is Mr.
X behaving in a way so contra-
dictory to Judaism?"
No. 10) The whole Hollywood
and the Jews thing.
I can think of one, maybe two,
movies that portrayed Jewish
life fairly and accurately. That's
Why, why, why do all these
Jewish producers who know
about as much as a piece of
gefilte fish about Judaism insist
on making films about Jews?
They've always got it wrong,
and Jews invariably come out
looking either like people who
care nothing about their faith or
are so Old World they think a
Ford Fairlane is a new automo-
My favorite example of this
travesty is that horrible film
Avalon. My husband groaned
throughout the entire thing.
Even my mother, who loves the-
ater, rolls her eyes whenever I
mention it.
In case you missed Avalon —
lucky you — it was about a Jew-
ish immigrant family who did
absolutely nothing, and I mean
nothing, Jewish. The only holi-
day they celebrated was
Thanksgiving = and that was
only after we heard that stupid
uncle complain, "You cut the
toikey without me!"
What? They did nothing Jew-
ish, you ask incredulously. Sure-
ly, they had at least one
"Orthodox uncle."


will never manage political
correctness. It just doesn't
come easily to mouth plati-
tudes that contradict the ev-
idence before me.
It used to be easy. For ex-
ample, I used to be able to say,
wholeheartedly, that boy chil-
dren and girl children were just
the same. Give 'em trucks,
they'd love trucks. Give 'ern dol-
lies, they'd love dollies.
In the years B.P. (Before Par-
enthood), I thought children
displayed gender differences
based on how they were raised.
Well, that may be true as far as
it goes because my son, now al-
most 5 years old, loves his sis-
ter's rag doll and my daughter

likes her brother's police car;
but boys are different from girls
in other ways I could never
have anticipated. Only the ar-
rival of child number three, our
first boy, could teach me the
real difference.
These contrasts are not
made up of obvious physical
variations. They do not affect
my lifelong, true feminist pos-
ture regarding equal pay for
equal work, equal treatment
under the law, fair family prac-
tices and equal access to the
good things in life, including
Senate confirmation.
Yet, I have been shown by
my son that boys — or at least
this particular boy — are more
fearless and foolhardy than
girls — or at least my particu-
lar girls. Boys love immense
noises and great speed. Boys
never walk when they can run,
never sit when they can climb,
and never care what your opin-
ion is. Sons are not like daugh-
ters, not even close.
My daughters never pushed

Erica Meyer Rauzin writes from

Miami Beach, Fla.

the detergent box up to the
trash can up to the kitchen
counter and used them as a lad-
der to climb to the top of the mi-
crowave, just to see if they could
fly. But this little boy did, and
that was back when he was
barely old enough to walk.
My daughters, though both
loved water play, never washed
the mail in the dog's water dish.
But my son did.
Nothing about this daring,
dauntless child is static, not for
an instant. One second he's per-
fectly dressed for synagogue, in
his miniature pin-striped vest
and tiny suit pants and little
blue kippah. The next second
— without visible movement—
he looks like the last scene of
a saloon brawl, with his vest
open, his pants torn, his
yarmulke dangling over one ear
tenuously held by a single clip
and his face glowing with
satisfaction at the rapid
havoc he has created.
I remember one thrill he
discovered when he was almost
2 years old: the ability to turn
on various machines. He dis-
covered, to my chagrin, that if
he pushed the buttons on the
fronts of things he could create
impressively loud noises.
This never appealed to my
girls, but they, too, remember
the period of time when no ap-
pliance was safe: the televi-
sion, the clock radio (which
was never the
same again), the
stereo, the dish-
washer, the dry-
er, all fell victim
to his technical skills.
He also loves to move furni-
ture, to drag the dog, to throw
things, to stomp in puddles and
to splash in the sink.
He likes to cuddle but even
his short squeezes are filled
with messy affection and
messier kisses. He knows what
is his and he wants it without
fail, right or wrong, reasonable
or not, including the dog's din-
ner (which he would eat if we
would let him, which we won't).
He slams doors, pushes
screens out of low windows,
opens drawers just to burrow
in their contents and tricks his
sisters just to see them holler.
Now he has a mind of his
own and the ability to set out
on contained but independent
household adventures. This is
three-years-worse than the ter-
rible twos.
And if it isn't PC to point out
that my daughters seem a lit-
tle more contained and a little
less rambunctious, be that as it
may. After all, girls are differ-
ent (whoops, I did it again). El





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