Earlier this month a famous Jewish comedian was on television and made some very inappropriate jokes about Am Yisrael.
While the media made a big deal regarding his belittling of The Holocaust, other parts of the act received less attention. But the ones which I personally found to be the most obscene got the least press: those that dealt with being embarrassed to be a Jew.
Why did this upset me? Because The Jews are the most wonderful and celebrated nation in the world! The Jewish people are descendants of the greatest people who ever walked the earth; from Abraham to King David and Albert Einstein…we have what to be proud of!
And every Jew knows that G-d chose us to bring light onto the nations and subsequently wrote an entire book about it (The Torah). What could be more inspiring?
In my practice as a clinical psychiatrist working at an Orthodox Jewish treatment facility in Jerusalem, the vast majority of patients that I see in my clinic are religious Jews. Every day I am inspired by the faith of my patients under adverse circumstances. But that story is not the purpose of this article. Rather I’d hope to tell you of a unique case that I saw a few months back.
It was surprising enough to see a patient with the name Fahima on my patient list. Now of course I remembered the wife of the great Rabbi Yehudah Tzadka had that same name but none the less I was curious. Things got a bit stranger when a religious Arab woman entered my office with her infant child. And while I was surprised to see a woman in a burqa in my clinic for Orthodox Jewish patients, I was happy to provide the same high-quality of care to all.
Fahima told me an awful story of her husband’s brutal temper. The monster had broken her ribs after she returned from the hospital the previous month having delivered a girl instead of a boy. Now he’d begun drinking alcohol on a daily basis and would threaten her life throughout the night. As we spoke, it became clear to me that making a diagnosis was less important than finding this young woman a safe haven from her increasingly-abusive husband. With her permission, I contacted the local welfare office and was able to schedule her an intake at a domestic violence shelter in the city.
Within an hour, a social worker from the city had arrived to bring her to a safe place. As the episode neared its closure, I couldn’t help but to wonder what had brought Fahima to our clinic as opposed to any of the other facilities in the area. Luckily Fahima answered my question for me as she walked out the door.
“G-d bless you Dr. Freedman. I had nowhere to turn in my own village but I knew if I came to the Jews that they would help me. G-d bless you.”
I thanked her and wished her good luck and health in the future and then sat to think. Beyond being grateful for her blessing, I was proud. Not of myself of course–I had only done the simple and obvious thing of connecting a domestic violence victim with social welfare services–but proud of The Jewish People. Her words echoed in my mind, “I knew if I came to the Jews that they would help me.”
If that wasn’t a shot in the arm I don’t know what would be! So for every Jew who was ever afraid that the name Goldstein was “too Jewish” or that “wearing a kippah wasn’t cool,” I beg to differ. And for every Jewish comedian that seeks to belittle their heritage for a few cheap laughs, I’d offer a rebuttal: nothing should make a person prouder than being part of a people with a national mission to fix the world.