Monday, December 21st, 2009
Here’s what I think about sainthood for Pope Pius – which has too many Jews in a lather. It’s none of my damn business. I’m a Jew. I don’t get to pick saints and they don’t get to pick the Belzer rebbe. It’s the Catholic belief system, and anyone who doesn’t respect and accept that system, who doesn’t live their life by that system, should let them be. If you don’t play chess, you don’t tell the bishop how to move.
I get along just fine with very religious Catholics, and I don’t agree with their messiah, which is a bigger deal than their saints. I care about their saints as much as I care about the Singing Nun’s Dominique. It’s none of my business. It is my business if I have to hear one more chazan lead Kedusha to Erev Shel Shoshanim. But Dominique, not my business.
Sainthood for Pius is a vexing problem for Jews who get more impassioned about any religion but their own: Jews who laugh at the concept of a pure tzadik, or the concept of a chasidic rebbe, but who furrow their brow about Catholics being beatified or sainted; Jews who mock the Evangelical’s End of Days scenario, but who don’t want to be converted when it won’t happen. Jews who are furious that one man in Rome didn’t do enough during the last Holocaust, but who aren’t anywhere near as furious, or as mobilized — or in disagreement, sometimes — about the demonization of settlers, the west, American Zionists, and the Goldstoning of Israeli self-defense in academia, in the media, in world capitals, that is providing a low flame under a global witch’s brew that is ready to blow — now.
Funny, how liberal Jews get all roughy-tough with Catholics and Evangelical Zionists because they can get away with it, but get shy, timid, deferential when it comes to confronting Muslims at home and abroad. It’s like the Chelm story, where the village idiot searches for his wallet where the light is, not where he lost it.
Here’s one easy way to always tell who the real enemy is: It’s the one that Jews won’t fight.
There’s only so much that one religion can ask of another. At least Orthodox Jews on the street, by and large, don’t care what Catholics do or don’t do. There’s the old joke of the ecumenical conference where the Catholic says, “For the sake of getting along, we’ll give up blaming the Jews for killing Jesus.” And the Orthodox Jew says, “For the sake of getting along, we’ll give up the second Yikum Purkan.”
Some parts of religion simply aren’t anyone else’s business to add or subtract. Sweep your own sidewalk. If you don’t keep kosher, I don’t want to hear from you about how I should eat Heksher Tzedek, and pay more for the privilege. If you’re not Orthodox, don’t go bringing up the quality of Joe Lieberman’s Orthodoxy in a nasty way just because he doesn’t vote the way you do, unless a private detective could follow you around for a week and find any evidence of your stellar Jewish life. (Sorry, believing that Torah makes no demands on us other than being in complete political agreement with the Black Congressional Caucus is not evidence of your Judaism.)
Don’t blame the pope for not doing more than most American Jews did at the time. Don’t blame the pope for not doing more than even most European Jews and Jewish leaders did in the 1930s and ’40s when, before being conquered themselves, did pitifully little on behalf of other Jews already behind enemy lines.
Here’s one piece of advice from Bogart for most Jewish leaders regarding leadership during the Shoah: “I wouldn’t bring up Paris if I were you, it’s poor salesmanship.”
Let the Catholics be, and let Lieberman be, and let the intermarried J Streeters go to Buddhist seders. If it’s not your Bible, don’t write the Rashi. If you don’t love the Baby Jesus, you don’t get to pick the saints. We have wars to fight, but not this one. Let’s end with a niggun, Willie Nelson doing Hank Williams, “Mind Your Own Business.”