Why are Jews So Ethnocentric?Questions & Answers, Who/What is a jew Sunday, May 1st, 2011
The problem with rabbis like you is your narrow view of the world. You always talk about the Jewish future, Jewish continuity, Jews marrying Jews, having Jewish children. What about the rest of humanity? Why do we have to divide between people? Can’t we speak of humans rather than Jews?
You have a good point. Maybe I should broaden my perspective and be concerned about more global issues and not so pre-occupied with Jewish particularism. So if you don’t mind, I would like to hear your point of view on one such issue: The hairy-nosed wombat.
I have been approached by an organization that is dedicated to saving endangered species. They are campaigning to save the hairy-nosed wombat of northern Queensland, Australia, which is on the verge of extinction. They say if we don’t do something soon the wombats will be gone forever.
Do you think this is a good cause? I could write about it in my weekly article but am not sure if it is worthy of promotion. This is not a Jewish issue. Should it really bother me if there are no more hairy-nosed wombats?
Now you’re talking. I would love to see a rabbi promote conservation and eco-awareness. And by the way, it is a Jewish issue! If the hairy-nosed wombat is lost, we all lose. Every species is an integral part of the whole ecosystem. I would much rather you wrote about something like that than the usual myopic Jewish stuff…
I have no doubt that the hairy-nosed wombat makes an important contribution to the world – otherwise G‑d would not have created it. But I happen to think that the Jewish people are at least as worthy of preservation as the hairy-nosed wombat.
While the contribution wombats make to the world may not be obvious, the Jewish contribution is. From Moses to Maimonides, as well as from Philo to Freud to Forbes, Jews as individuals – and as a community – have given much to the world, and I don’t think we have run out of ideas. I think we have more to give.
This is not to put down any other nation and their achievements. Just as the attempt to save the hairy-nosed wombat is not insulting to any other animal, so too the desire to continue the Jewish legacy of four thousand years in no way belittles the gifts of other people.
My work is to try to keep Jewish souls Jewish, because I believe Judaism is an idea that is yet to have its time, and you can’t have Judaism without Jews. So I will continue to try to preserve Jews, whether or not they are hairy-nosed.
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