Non-Jewish politicians in Arkansas are not bragging about Jewish ancestry. But in Brooklyn or Queens or on Long Island? There are Jews, and they vote.
Judaism – or Jewish-ish-Pun? – Can bring someone closer to powerful activist groups, can help deliver a constituency. For Mr. Santos, having a Jewish identity made him a shining commodity for the Republican Party, which has tried and failed for decades to weed Jews away from the Democratic fold. (Following the revelation of Mr. Santos’s lies, the Republican Jewish Coalition Said Mr. Santos “will not be welcome at any future RJC event,” which hardly sounds like a pun.)
It is noteworthy that in many cases it is being claimed Happen A Jew doesn’t seem to have an advantage, exactly – but having a whiff of Jewish heritage or ancestry does. It stands to reason that, because in politics, or in celebrity, there is no such thing as a bad pedigree. Being 1/128th Native American or part Romani or a little Jewish – they all give a little flavor, liven up a static image. Actually being an existing, practicing, engaged member of the group? less attractive. A practicing, Sabbath-keeping Jew makes some people suspicious; Being a secular American who just so happens to have a great-great grandfather who was a shtetl rabbi is a good biographical fact.
To quote the title of Darius Horn’s essay collection, People Love Dead Jews. Having a dead Jew in your past is hilarious. Jorge Santos invented his past in business because he hoped it would make him successful. He invented dead Jews to make himself sound sympathetic or interesting.
Still, I’m a little wary of Mr. Santos’s call for culturally appropriating Judaism, for trying to assimilate my people to ourselves, because we Jews are always trying to assimilate people. In the words of Adam Sandler, in his Hanukkah-song roll call of famous Jews, “Harrison Ford’s a quarter Jewish—not too shabby” (and he really half jewish, Surprise: Nothing pleases a Jew more than to welcome a celebrity of Jewish descent into the club.
But this is an invitation given by the Jews, tongue in cheek. It’s like a MacArthur “genius” grant: You don’t apply; You just contact (I’m still To Wait for my phone call.) If you want to apply, or be accepted as a member of the community, there are many ways to do it – but they all involve being serious, not opportunistic; Not only about your DNA or ancestry, but also about the living community of Jews. you can be serious In many ways: praying with us, studying with us, learning to cook with us, organizing political events with us, becoming one of us.
And for those who feel “Jewish-ish”, either because they had a lot of Jewish friends in college or because they discovered a Jewish great-great-grandfather, even though every relative since the Civil War has been Christian : Maybe keep quiet about it? Or say you’re friends of Jews — you can also find Friends of Jews United, which may not exist like Friends of Pets United, but definitely should.
Mark Oppenheimer is the host of the podcast”Gatecrashers: The Hidden History of Ivy League Jews” and author of “Squirrel Hill: The Tree of Life Synagogue Shooting and the Soul of a Neighborhood”. He formerly wrote the faith column for The Times.
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