Category Archives: Judaism

Should Jewish Professionals Represent Anti-Semites?

Not liking co-workers and clients is something anyone who’s employed has had to deal with during their career—most of us accept that as a normal part of the job. But what about truly offensive individuals who are downright evil? Should they be represented, and if so, by whom? Consider these two cases where Jewish professionals agreed to help open and notorious anti-Semites with bad results:

Dylann Roof, who committed mass murder at a Charleston church, is trying to fire his Jewish and Indian lawyers, calling them his “biological enemies.” The lawyers are actually fighting to remain on the case.

Tanya Gersh, a Montana realtor, was viciously terrorized by a troll mob after agreeing to represent Richard Spencer’s mother as a listing agent. She and her family literally had to flee for their lives as a result.

While I have immense sympathy for anyone who is being targeted and publically harassed and humiliated, I am truly puzzled that a Jewish professional would choose to represent an anti-Semite. It is certainly not a choice that I would make.

As many of my readers know, I was a realtor before I was a blogger, so I’m familiar with how that occupation works. Realtors have a lot of flexibility; they can pick their own clients and set their own commissions. Mrs. Gersh was aware of the Spencer family’s ties to the White Nationalist agenda, and obviously that would be the polar opposite of her own ideology. Why she ever would willingly involve herself is truly beyond me. (That’s not to say she did something wrong or bad, just that it wasn’t the wisest decision.)

In the case of legal representation, I’m also familiar with how that works since I have many family members that are lawyers. Even in cases of public defenders who are assigned clients, if there’s a true ideological issue at stake, a lawyer can ask to be recused. Every client is supposed to get the best defense possible and it’s debatable if a lawyer can truly aid a client they hate. I know that within my own family, nobody would ever take on a client like Roof. Perhaps other lawyers are more accommodating, but again, why should a Jewish lawyer be put in such a difficult position when a non-Jewish lawyer could assist?

In almost every case, a Jewish professional should not participate in helping an anti-Semite. Probably the only instance where one may have to do it would involve a life-or-death situation—emergency room doctor, paramedic, police office, etc. Otherwise, I say no and I would encourage others to do the same.

Baltimore Museum Preserving Iraqi Jewish Heritage

The Jewish Museum of Maryland in Baltimore has created a special display honoring Iraqi Jewish heritage, available through January 15th, 2018. Filled with meticulously restored documents and artifacts, these precious items are some of the last remnants of the once-thriving Jewish communities of Baghdad.

With over 130,000 members at its peak, it was destroyed by extreme violence and prejudice, forced deportations, and mass voluntary immigration to Israel after the modern State was created in 1948. In 2003, the last synagogue closed and only ten Jews remain in Baghdad today!

The exhibit is called “Discovery and Recovery: Preserving Iraqi Jewish Heritage,” and it contains about two dozen items, including books, calendars, school and organization records, bibles, a Haggadah and fragments of a Torah.

I am so impressed that the museum made so much effort to recognize this unique community’s history. Within a few short years—maybe even this year!—the final handful of Iraqi Jews will die off and could easily be forgotten otherwise.

Indian Synagogue Revived After 45 Years

With so much gloom and doom in the news about how the Jewish community is apathetic and unaffiliated, this article is really exciting! A synagogue in Ernakulam, India is being revived by tourism and has started holding Shabbat services again after a 45 year gap.

The synagogue, thought to be in existence for over 900 years, went into decline after most of its members immigrated to Israel. (While that is a great thing, I still am saddened to see Diaspora communities disappear.)

Due to interest from various Jewish groups, visitors from Israel made a trip last year and it was so successful, more people from New York will be doing it again.

I have never been to India, but I find the country and culture fascinating. This is definitely a place I’d love to see one day.

Matan: Assisting Jewish Kids with Special Needs

Parenting a special needs child comes with a huge range of difficulties, particularly when it comes to that child’s education. While most public schools have programs available, many Jewish organizations don’t.

Matan is dedicated to changing that. They help Jewish programs include kids & teens with disabilities, offer director and teacher-level training, community consultation, educational resources and webinars.

When you see the statistics, it is crystal-clear why this type of help is so desperately needed:

  • 15% – 20% of children and youth ages 3–21 have a diagnosed learning disability
  • 1 in 68 children in the United States has an Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • 200,000 students in the Jewish community have special needs

Imagine how many children, through no fault of their own, are falling into the cracks, being ignored, under-served, and/or marginalized. Truly, truly sad and shocking! Since these children are the future of the Jewish community, we must make a strong effort to reach out to them and to their parents, giving them the tools that they need to succeed.