If I forsake you
January 26, 2018
My dad was not a big believer in religion. I found some of the reason when I studied the life of my grandfather, Abraham Shiplacoff. Abe was a devout Socialist of the “Old School.” And, while he believed passionately in his Judaism—he was skeptical of all rabbis and any others in positions of power. His early years in what are now Ukraine and a stern father helped fashion his distaste for the status quo.
So, my dad grew up with little regard for the religious structure of Judaism. As I reached the age of 12, the subject of Bar Mitzvah came up frequently. We did not belong to a synagogue, lived in an overwhelmingly Gentile suburb of Philadelphia called Merion, and had little exposure to all things Jewish.
The exception was my grandmother, Esther Deitch. She was a true “Yiddishe Mama.” I adored her. When I was about 12 or 13 she moved in with my mother’s sister.
Many times I would grab a bus and go to visit her after school. Usually I would hear a chopping noise coming from the kitchen. It would be my Grandma Deitch with a wooden bowl between her legs and a meat chopper in her hand. In the bowl would be a number of chicken livers, which she would be methodically chopping.
“Grandma!” I would call. “What are you doing?”
She would sigh, never stop her methodical chopping and answer, “I got nothing to do so I’m making in the meantime, liver.”
I grew up thinking that the delightful chopped liver we had at Aunt Rosie’s house was called “In the Meantime Liver.” That was pretty much the extent of my teen age Judaism. I didn’t get Bar Mitzvahd until I was in my 40s.
In my early 20s, we moved to Cleveland, Ohio. My dad had landed the RCA franchise for Northern Ohio. It was a lucrative franchise in 1950 as television began to take the nation by storm. Saturation was about 10 percent when we got to Cleveland. Within three years it was approaching 50 percent. Good times for the Shipleys.
Suddenly my dad became active in the Jewish Community. We joined the temple where the esteemed Rabbi Abba Hillel Silver was in charge. Suddenly we were going to services. Suddenly all things Jewish seemed important. Really? Part of it was that if you wanted to be respected by the Jewish Community of Cleveland (and invited to the best Jewish Country Club), you became active in the Jewish Community.
So, our home changed from “The Jewish religion was something you don’t need” to “Save the Jewish People.”
Truth? Bill Shipley always had the “Pintele Yid” deep inside him. That bit of down-deep Judaism that is in our DNA. It took the struggle for Israel to connect the dots for him. Me? I rode along that journey without a real deep understanding of Jewish history.
Then I married Rachel. Rachel was, is and will be solid in her religion and her peoplehood. While she too has no formal Jewish education, she was raised in a religious home and made the spirit of our home before, during and after the children, a center of Jewish life.
We know Jews of all stripes. We revel in the attitude of the Orthodox while decrying some of the attitudes of the Ultra-Orthodox. We understand Religious Jews, Traditional Jews, Culinary Jews, Intermarried Jews - Jews.
What we cannot understand are those Jews who forsake their Peoplehood. The swell of actual anti-Semitism among Jewish students on campuses around the country is inconceivable to us. We cannot grasp the very essence of BDS. J-Street disgusts us.
There has always been a touch of self-righteousness in all Jews. It is part of our DNA from having to defend our basic right to be for thousands of years. But, for Jews to become a chorus of anti-Israel philosophy boggles my mind. Deep inside you as it was with my father is that “Pintela Yid.” It took a trip to Israel to light my fire. It took numerous trips and a long friendship with Menachem Begin and his family to fully understand the need and the desire for a return to our Homeland. As a Jew—left, right or in the middle—you have a dog in this fight.
President Trump has officially declared Jerusalem the Capitol of Israel. Of course Congress had done the same thing in 1995. He promised to move the embassy from Tel Aviv and then signed a six-month waiver delaying it again—and acknowledged it would take years to accomplish this. Jerusalem is the Capitol of Israel without the acknowledgement of the U.S. Congress or the president.
Mr. President? You want to move the embassy to Jerusalem? Why not just switch the signs on the embassy in Tel Aviv with the consulate in Jerusalem? Couldn’t cost more than a couple hundred bucks and it would be done. Just sayin’.