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Oy what a shande: my confession and a question
Oy what a shande! What have I done? My thoughtless actions could lead to the ultimate downfall of our people.
You see, I... I...I... went to a doctor to have an initial exam for LASIK surgery, and that doctor WASN'T JEWISH!
I deserve any hateful blog comments you write me. I have no excuse, I mean how tough can it be to find a Jewish LASIK doctor? I know of at least one downtown. And what's next, a non-Jewish divorce lawyer (do those exist?), sending my kids to St. Mary's Church Camp, a subscription to the Christian Science Monitor, losing the tolerance I've built up to Gefilte Fish?
You may read my confession and say it's no big deal, I'm just being dramatic. And maybe you're right. But I seriously believe that, despite being few in numbers, we are a strong, cohesive, and thriving people because of our ingrained attitude of taking care of our own. By that I'm referring to both the level of philanthropic giving and patronizing local Jewish-owned businesses. I've been told this trait sets us apart from many other minority groups and at least partially explains our success as a people.
That's why I'm worried our generation is de-prioritizing our support of needy Jews and Jewish-owned businesses. For our age group, more philanthropic funds are going away from places like the Minneapolis Jewish Federation, and towards non-religious humanitarian efforts like Hurricane Katrina, tsunami relief, and other Red Cross led efforts (that is not at all a compliant, any disaster that affects any person of this earth regardless of religion deserves our assistance). Locally Fishman's closed, citing the availability of Kosher items in larger grocery stores and online options as a major cause. Some Jewish day schools are cutting back grades or closing. And now I can't even go to a Jewish doctor for an elective surgery.
I'm totally bummed that I'm part of the problem instead of part of the solution. But, in my defense, I did recently buy Girl Scout cookies from a sweet little Jewish girl (yeah, it's my daughter, so what, that still counts).
I wish I could remember the name of a book I read several years ago, because its time to re-read it. The book discusses how the Jewish people take care of their own, succeed in far greater numbers then other groups, have a disproportionate share (relative to total population size) of Nobel Prizes, executive jobs, financial success, etc. It talked about the immigrants coming to New York, working labor jobs and struggling so that they could send their children to college and the future generations could succeed. That book made me proud, and solidified my belief in our need to take care of our own. And I remember thinking that these beliefs are somewhat separate from how deep your religious beliefs are. I have no proof, but I think non-practicing Jews and us Reform types still possess the take-care-of-your-own gene.
This is the part where I ask your thoughts.
Is the take care-of-our-own mentality still strong within our generation?
Is it different for philanthropy versus patronizing Jewish-owned businesses?
And, conversely, at this point are our businesses successful enough, philanthropy needs public enough, and global reputation strong enough to survive even if our own involvement is along more "normal" levels?
I'm going with yes, yes, no, what do you think?
I look forward to hearing what you have to say.