The Jewish Stake
In Our Government
Wary Of The Amalek
All Around Us
DAVID GAD HARF SPECIAL TO THE JEWISH NEWS
PHIL JACOBS ED TOR
Item: The State velopments have in common? ership trip to Lansing, our com-
Board of Educa They underscore the need for the munity's representatives met with
tion issues a mis Jewish community to establish the speaker of the House, the Sen-
sion statement and nurture ties with public offi- ate majority leader, other legisla-
that has religious cials and leaders of Michigan's tors who deal with education
overtones and cre- key public institutions. Our com- issues, and a high-ranking aide to
ates a rationale for munity's agenda cannot be the governor. During the discus-
a parochiaid pro- achieved through last-minute ad sions, the delegation was able to
hoc appeals to people who have convey the concern we have about
Item: The Oak- no relationship with us. It re- legislative efforts to permit teacher-
land County Board of Commis- quires a long-term, sustained ef- led prayer in public schools. While
sioners nearly adopts a resolution fort to get acquainted with a wide some of the people with whom JG
calling for organized
prayer in the public
dismissed the issue
symbolic one, they
Item: The Sate Depart-
a better under-
ment of Education sched-
standing of how "symbol-
ules the first annual
ic" issues can be perceived
student proficiency exams
as threatening to religious
to coincide with the Rosh
Next month, the
Michigan Jewish Con-
Item: A student group
ference, the statewide
at Michigan State Univer-
association of a dozen
sity invites as a guest
Michigan Jewish com-
speaker Leonard Jeffries,
munities, is sponsoring
who has given speeches
its first Jewish Commu-
and written articles con-
nity Advocacy Day in
taining anti-Semitic accu-
Lansing. It will begin
with the annual state
Item: A visiting delega-
tion of Israeli mayors from
tion at the State Capitol,
Detroit's partner region
followed by a legislative
would like to meet with
briefing and visits with
Gov. Engler to discuss op-
our state legislators. I
portunities for collabora-
urge readers to join the
tion between the state of
Detroit bus to Lansing
Michigan and the central
on April 26 for this very
array of policy makers, even be- important opportunity to make
Item: A new Congress seems fore we know precisely how their our presence known in Lansing.
less hospitable to foreign aid at a actions may affect the Jewish
Among the lessons of the Holo-
time when it also is seeking ways community.
caust is that we must play an ac-
to reduce the federal budget. The
Public officials have, all in all, tive role in the democratic process
Jewish community needs an ally welcomed the opportunity to that America offers us. Today's
among House Republicans to meet with representatives of the "symbolic" issues often become
help preserve aid to Israel and Jewish community to discuss is- tomorrow's crises. And today's
demonstrate continued U.S. sup- sues of concern to us. We are of- county official could become to-
port for the peace process.
ten at odds with them on some of morrow's member of Congress or
What do all of these recent de- the issues, but it is even more im- governor.
portant in these cases for public
We cannot take for granted
David Gad Hart is executive
officials to understand the nature that the process will work mag-
director of the Jewish
and source of the disagreement. ically toward the ends for which
Community Council of
For example, during a recent we hope. We must be a part of the
Jewish Community Council lead- process.
Is It Good For The Jews?
DAVID HOLZEL SPECIAL TO THE JEWISH NEWS
ike Gold, whose 1930
Jews Without Money de-
tailed immigrant life on
New York's Lower East Side,
many years later recalled his fa-
ther exclaiming, "Great news,
Katie. The 20th century is corn-
ing next Thursday night."
"Whatever it is," his mother
replied, "it probably means more
trouble for the Jews."
David Holzel is assistant editor
of the Atlanta Jewish Times.
On the one hand, Mrs. Gold's
words proved prophetic. On the
other hand, it's undeniable that
good things have happened to the
Jews in this century — the State
of Israel and Chinese take-out,
But Mrs. Gold's conclusion
should not have been unexpect-
ed. Despite a tradition that re-
flects an optimistic view of life,
Jews have developed an uncan-
ny knack for taking the most
miniscule detail and divining
The time-tested yardstick for
determining the malevolence of
a given situation is the question,
"Is it good for the Jews?" The
standard answer is, of course,
"no." But a rational look at the
question, you might be surprised
to learn, can turn up a huge
swath of gray area and some un-
* Take cholent. Contrary to
what you've always thought, it is
GOOD page 12
You all kn ow must continually ask ourselves:
how crazy o ur Is there another Amalek, an-
days can be, other Haman?
with phon es
There are some among us who
ringing and p eo- fear the peace process in the Mid-
ple running in die East, seeing the enabling of
and out of our of- the Palestinians as Amalek's lat-
fices. Hopefu ll y, est tool. For the friends and rel-
when the wor k- atives of those who have been
day is done, we taken away by terrorists, it would
can remember at least one c all be hard to find argument here.
that really gave us a constru c- If you put your stock in recent
tive hit in the solar plexus.
ADL findings, Amalek's spirit of
Mine came the other day fro m hate comes in the form of van-
my friend Robbie Shear. He dalism, assault and other hate
called to talk to me about an crimes against Jews, not only in
Aish HaTorah course call ed this country but all over the
"Discovery." I remember takin g world. The photo of those two
the course years ago. When y ou skinhead brothers, picked up in
ask an "alumnus" of the Tor ah central Michigan for the alleged
sessions what they rememb er killing of their parents and
the most, chances are good th at brother, seems to be the direct
the computer analysis of th e picture of what Amalek repre-
Torah itself will come up.
sents. Now an anti-Semitic, anti-
Discovery teachers show us black group called "Resistance"
through sophisticated means can be found on the Internet. Is
how the concept of Amalek, a this not Amalek?
force of evil bent on the annihi-
I heard a rabbi friend once say
lation of the Jewish people, is during a Shabbat discussion
connected through biblical his- that this was one of the "golden
tory to today and beyond. Dis- eras" of Judaism in the world.
covery offers examples of how Jews were free to have their re-
the Torah even can be used to ligion prosper and grow, espe-
predict the rise to power of evil cially in the United States. But
forces, be they named Haman, with that freedom is a huge re-
Hitler or even Saddam Hussein. sponsibility. For it is just as easy
We read in Parshat Zachor for a Jew to blend in and think
last week how Amalek pursued that he or she is part of our
the Israelites and killed them as Christian-dominated society.
they made their way out of
Truth is, no matter how hard
Egypt. The Purim connection is we try to be like everyone else,
that Agag is a descendent of we are still different. Some of us
Amalek. Haman, the villain of go out of our way to pretend we
our Purim Megillah is Haman aren't Jewish. It takes an act of
Ha'Agagi or Haman the Agagite. hate, for some, to bring them
"Remember what Amalek did back to reality.
to you on your journey as you
You've no doubt heard hard-
left Egypt. He smote all the core cynics say that "Jews
stragglers at the rear who were through assimilation will finish
enfeebled and weary. You must off what Hitler started." While
erase the memory of Amalek this might be a bit extreme, we
from under heaven. Do not for - are, however, losing Jews in
get." (Deuteronomy 25:17-19).
There is a great deal of liter
Maybe, this is Amalek's plan.
ature &it there linking the
Certainly the evil forces of
demise of 20th-century European Amalek smile when we Jews
Jewry, specifically in Germany. fight among themselves, or
Consider the similarities. Ten when someone of one denomi-
sons of Haman hung as did 10 nation thinks their level of ob-
Nazis after Nuremberg. The servance makes them better
death verdict came on Hashanah than others.
Rabbah, the judgment day for
Is Amalek on the far right? Is
the non-Jewish world.
Amalek pro-choice or pro-life?
In the Megillah itself, three Does Amalek care about the O.J.
Hebrew letters are unexplain- Simpson trial? No, but Amalek
ably smaller than the rest. They is glad that we waste our time
are tof, shin, zion. The numeri- caring.
cal value of these letters comes
We must learn to be better
to 1946, the year of the verdict. people to one another, and to
And finally, Queen Esther her- teach our children through ex-
self, in the Megillah, asks amples of goodness.
Hashem to hang the sons of
We need to stop the nastiness,
Haman, even though they have we need to stop the gossip. We
already been killed. Sages be- need to work on the values of the
lieve that she is referring not Torah. We need to do it now. Be-
only to Haman's sons but to any cause if we don't, we won't have
future "sons" who are enemies to look far for the next Amalek.
of the Jews.
Thanks for the phone call,
The question that we as Jews Robbie.