Discrimination against Jews and Muslims is on the rise yet again. I have always thought it rather ironic that almost throughout the world hatred against Jews and Muslims correlate even though too often these two groups hate each other these days.
Like it or not, Jews and Muslims need to confront hatred together...world wide.
I am Jewish. So I like to challenge people about just what it means to be Jewish. My wife (half Jewish half Polish) once said that we are Jewish because there are people out there who would kill us because we are Jewish. That really stuck with me. She is right.
But there is more. People CHOOSE to be Jewish and the diversity of what it means to be Jewish is far wider than most people realize. In fact sometimes those who choose to be Jewish have a hard time convincing mainstream Jews of their legitimacy, but increasingly what it means to be Jewish is more diverse than most people realize.
Below I show, through music, some of the diversity of Judaism because it is through our music and diversity that we can fight prejudice. And I should add that I hope my fellow Jews also oppose anti-Muslim trends because to a large degree we are all this together and anti-Semitism and anti-Islam tend to go together...logically or not we need to stick together.
What does it mean to be Jewish...?
We all usually see Fiddler on the Roof as our standard for what it means to be Jewish, or something like this from the movie "Train de vie":
This shows one side to the multi-faceted thing called Judaism.
We expect Jews to look and act certain ways..particularly musically. Here is a particularly amazing example of Jewish music as we expect it: (guess who the violist is?)
Below I show far different faces of Judaism...
One of the most amusing and amazing mainstream Jewish songs was best sung by Paul Robeson...in nearly perfect Yiddish:
Paul Robison thought that Judaism was worthwhile enough to sing a humorous song in Yiddish. But he took this one step further by singing a song dedicated to Jewish resistance against the Nazis in WW II. The song is Zog Nit Kein'mol...commonly called "The Partisan's Song" but it literally means "Never Say," meaning "Never say this is the final road for you." It was written by a Jewish inmate in the Vilna Ghetto when he heard about the Jewish uprising in Warsaw.
To quote from the description that accompanies that video:
This famous song was sung by Robeson as part of his legendary Moscow Concert of June 13, 1949.which Paul Robeson gave while on his tour in the Soviet Union, at the time under the Stalin oppressive dictatorship.THAT is Judaism...as seen through the eyes of Paul Robeson.
This song was sung by him as a tribute to the Jewish partisan fighters of the Ghetto. It was also a surprise that Robeson gave at the Concert. His son tells of the introduction of the song from his father's memoirs that: "... One could hear a pin drop during my father remarks about the deep and enduring cultural ties between the Jewish communities of the Soviet Union and the United States, about the common tradition of the great Jewish writer Sholem Aleichem, and about the continued vitality of the Yiddish language. Finally he announced that he would sing a song of the Jewish partisans who fought to the death against their Fascist oppressors in the Warsaw Ghetto. Since the song had to be sung in Yiddish, he would explain the lyrics in Russian, as follows:
'Never say that you have reached the very end
When leaden skies a bitter future may portend;
For sure the hour for which we yearn will not arrive
Arid our marching steps will thunder: we survive'.
For a moment there was no sound from the stunned audience; then a single intrepid young woman stood up and applauded, and the entire audience joined in a swelling wane of applause before my father could sing a single note. Only this response to my fathers remarks remains on the recording; Stalin's censors simply cut out his remarks, and they have disappeared..."
The Song of the Wamaw [sic] Ghetto Rebellion sung in Yiddish (Zog Nit Keynmol) - remains an a crowning jewel of this recording of the Concert. The combination of power and pathos with which my father delivered this song transfixed his listeners. When he finished, the audience released its accumulated tension like an explosive charge. Although his listeners included many of Moscows Jewish intellectual elite who were waiting for Stalins axe to fell on them, the great majority were Russian members of the Party elite which was being decimated by a purge. Jews and Russians alike, in some places seated side-by-side, were either walking in the shadow of death or had lost someone close...
After that first release, the ovation continued to swell and recede in a series of waves which ebbed and flowed. People stood, applauded and cried out; they called my father by his patronymic-Pavel Vasilevich; some who were total strangers fell info each others arms and wept; still others sat silently with tears streaming down their faces. The first part of the audiences response is captured on this recording, but the rest has been cut by the censors. Still, the sound of this cry of hope is unforgettable, and there is little doubt that it was heard by the Master himself.
This is also Judaism:
And another group who CHOSE, against all odds (including Idi Amin's violence) to be Jewish:
And here is another diverse group of Jews singing an amazing song:
And one of my son's favorites:
We are Jews. We are not simple. We are not uniform. We are diverse and dynamic. And we stand against intolerance not just against Jews but also against anyone. We are part of the civil rights movement, the union movement, the immigration movement, the peace movement. Superman was created by a Jewish immigrant. The words inscribed on the Statue of Liberty were written by a Jewish immigrant.
Antisemitism is on the rise. So is an anti-Islam sentiment. We stand against BOTH!