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Max Roytenberg

Step Up and Take A Bow!

by Max Roytenberg, March 23, 2018

I must admit I am embarrassed. It is true. I’m a Jewish boy from Winnipeg who examines the name and the face of every person who appears in our movies, on television, and is written about in the newspapers. One single question is always in my mind. I admit it. My first question? Is he/she, could he/she, be Jewish? So often my answer to myself is yes, and I am proud.


Am I the only one of our tribe exhibiting this syndrome. There might be anti-semites out there with the same spastic reaction. But are my fellow Jews subject to the same tic, the same reflex action? Or, is it only me, and why am I like that? What is it in my background, my nurturing, my growing–up experience that causes this reaction in me?


The reason I am embarrassed is that I am seeing/hearing a lot of Jewish names being bandied about associated with kefuffle in America around the horror story named Trump. Of course I always expect that when bad things happen we are going to see and hear about a lot of goyim. Of course, that’s only natural, there are so many of them out there, aren’t there? And we think that we Jews are the only ones who were raised the right way, imbued with all the biblical rules for how to lead a good and proper life.


Listening to the news, as all the muck around the self-serving Trump machinations is excavated for our enjoyment, too many of these names carry a Jewish accent. I am not just talking about Kushner, (who has to go and marry the princess,) who never filled me with pride even before this movie began. Then there’s all these Jewish lawyers and finance guys parading across the screen with dubious credentials. Talk about being embarrassed, I feel positively nauseous.


I cannot hold myself up as being a paragon of civic virtue. I have myself had some run-ins with the challenge of being a paragon in the public domain. That doesn’t make me feel any better. And yet, I feel that when we do good out there, there may be some brownie points for the tribe. Mostly people will say that we are only doing just what is to be expected. It is ignored that we are performing in this way out of all proportion to our numbers in the mix of persons with similar responsibilities. (Can you believe the shameful performance of many members of the U.S. Congress?)


But for sure, if we do badly, we offer lots of material for finger-pointing, smear tactics, and I told you so’s. We worry about that. The situation has not been improved by the hair-raising antics of our favorite actor south of the border. Now we also have to contend with an Islamic lobby seeking to delegitimize Israel and Jewish contributions while crying wolf when their actions are questioned.


Many of us have the fear that our Jewish presence will be challenged or questioned in the places where we live. We faced outright discrimination when we arrived in these places. And, often, we came from places where it was the order of the day. And then there was the Holocaust in which, in so many places, the local populations joined in enthusiastically. This consciousness is something we all of us share as individuals.


So, when one of our tribe does good, we feel it re-enforces our feelings of tenuous acceptance in our milieu. (Why tenuous, well, we just feel insecure. Based on our history we worry and hope our collective good deeds will put off the day when the next pogrom begins. History show it has never helped for long.) So, what’s good for one is bound to be good for all. Then bad stuff by one of us, will ultimately lead to bad stuff for all of us. {It all makes me so much more grateful that I, my Bride, and our children and grandchildren live in a time when there is a State of Israel.)


So, lately I am more than embarrassed by all the coverage which is flushing out some “bad” actors, so many with obviously Jewish names. Oy veh! It is amazing that there are so many Jews in America who have risen to levels of such prominence that their names and faces are being paraded across our screens for the whole world to see. Iike the little girl with the curl in the middle of her forehead, “when (we) are good,(we) can be very, very good”, out of all proportion to our numbers, but on the other hand, “when (we) are bad, (we) can be horrid”.


It appears, that we can’t have one without the other. That may be inherent in the nature of man, but that doesn’t make me, or you, feel any better. Are our gentile friends making eyes at each other, behind our backs, smiling into their hands, remembering the many pious comments they have heard from us about our public servants, and their failings?


I continue to be embarrassed.

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