As you will likely recall, about a month ago, I wrote an article about my “moving experience,” whereby I described being scammed by movers, nearly resulting in the loss of my belongings. I did manage to stop the movers in time, but it cost me significant cash out of pocket for them to offload the truck back into my house.
At the time, my kids were on our family chat, busy reacting. One of my daughters responded with the familiar Jewish expression, “It should be a kaparah.” This means that the money wasted should act as a sort of forgiveness for us for any misdeeds we may have on our ledger. That evoked a response from one of our children: “How many sins do Mommy and Daddy have?!”
Referring to money as a “kaparah” is not a strange concept for us. On the day before Yom Kippur, many have the custom to ask for forgiveness via the swirling of a live chicken, and then offer the slaughtered bird to feed the poor. Others have the custom of using money instead. This is known as “kaparah gelt,” i.e., the merit of charity money to act on our behalf for forgiveness.
We now have an organization that is making broad use of kaparah gelt. A couple of weeks ago, Kanye West went on a tirade against Jews, whom he claimed were unkind to him in business. He took a broad sweep at all Jews. Never mind that his association with Jewish businesspeople is what made him wealthy to begin with.
Shortly after that, Kyrie Irving of the Brooklyn Nets went on a similar tirade and recommended some anti-Semitic book and movie. Unfortunately, the immediate reaction in both cases was timid. Candace Owens, a well-spoken conservative African American, normally a reliable friend of Israel and the Jews, was supportive of West’s right to express himself.
Jewish reaction to West and Irving was slow in coming, even from the Jewish commissioner of the NBA, Adam Silver. Thankfully, the corporate world and others finally reacted with the suspension of the business relationship of Adidas and others with Kanye West. Irving also was the subject of a major reaction, including a group of Jewish kids sitting front row at a Nets game with t-shirts reading “Fight Anti-Semitism” on full display.
What is particularly hurtful by these outbursts, as well as the violence against Jews on the streets of New York, is that it is coming from a group that owes much of its social advancement and promotion of racial tolerance to Jews. Jews were at the forefront of the Civil Rights Movement in the nascent years of the movement in the 1960s. Two Jewish young men, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, were brutally abducted and murdered in 1964 in the South for their active support of civil rights. Jews have overwhelmingly voted for and supported liberal causes to bring hateful bigotry to an end.
Looks like Jewish support of minorities was rudely reciprocated with political and personal hate in too many instances. Of course, we need to be thankful to basketball greats like Charles Barkley, Shaquille O’Neal, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who were very outspoken against Irving.
How did the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) respond to Irving? Give us a $500,000 donation and we will teach you how to be tolerant. If only Irving would know more about the Jews and their suffering, he would surely do t’shuvah and correct his evil ways. (The offer was withdrawn when Irving refused to apologize.) This to me is the ultimate kaparah gelt. Pay a few dollars and you will be absolved from sin.
A very feisty article was written for the online magazine Tablet on November 7 by Liel Leibovitz. The article was titled “No More ADL,” and the author documents how the ADL, under the leadership of former Obama staffer Jonathan Greenblatt, has become a shill for the left. The ADL rarely takes meaningful action against anti-Semitism, especially if not coming from the right. The author contends that the ADL has only helped to foster anti-Semitism, and we should learn to ignore it as an organization that speaks for Jewish interests.
The Coalition for Jewish Values has been calling for Greenblatt’s dismissal from the ADL for quite some time. The only other Jewish organization of note that has been vociferous in its criticism of the ADL is the Zionist Organization of America under Mort Klein.
Liberalism is the adopted religion of the secular Jew. If it is practiced out of a sincere care for the plight of fellow man, then so be it. But if it is practiced with the hope that if we love them they will love us, forget about it. It doesn’t work and never will.
This has been a tough time for American Jewry. Let us hope that the country will come out better for it by realizing the evils of this oldest hatred. It should be a kaparah.
Rabbi Yoel Schonfeld is the Rabbi Emeritus of the Young Israel of Kew Gardens Hills, President of the Coalition for Jewish Values, former President of the Vaad Harabonim of Queens, and the Rabbinic Consultant for the Queens Jewish Link.