Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Rabbi Boteach: More and more Gentiles connecting the dots on cancerous Jewish greed, materialism

Rancid materialism is corrupting our community
Many of us rabbis are either afraid to speak out or have been bought off.
(Jerusalem Post) -- By Rabbi Boteach

The Jewish community better get serious about the cancer that's growing inside it. The devastation on Wall Street carries a lot of Jewish names, from firms like Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers to individuals such as Bernard Madoff, whose $50 billion Ponzi scheme collapsed over the weekend, and lawyer Marc Dreier, arrested last week for defrauding investors of hundreds of millions of dollars. On the Internet more and more people who don't like us are beginning to connect the dots, pointing out that there are an awful lot of Jews who bear responsibility for Wall Street's fall...

...what if some if it is true? What if our community has become too obsessed with money? What if our values have become about wearing the most expensive Cartier watch and driving a suped-up Mercedes? What if a disproportionately large number of young Jews are running to work on Wall Street and never even considering jobs like teaching, the rabbinate, or doing outreach because the compensation, comparatively, stinks? FOR TOO long the Jewish community has excused all manner of material excess so long as those who sported giant jewels and enormous gold watches also gave lots of tzedaka (charity). It is true that Judaism has always said that riches are a blessing because they enable one's resources to be used for the benefit of others. We reject the New Testament statement that the rich will find it harder to get into heaven than a camel passing through the eye of a needle. But tzedaka is not the only Jewish value...

And yet the materialism in our community has become rancid. I was sitting with a group of rich Jewish businessmen the other day who were talking about a friend's son's bar mitzva in which an NBA superstar made a guest appearance for which he was paid an insane amount. Indeed, bar and bas mitzvas have become for many a game of million-dollar one-upmanship. Now, what kind of values are being communicated to these young people on the occasion of becoming responsible members of our community? That life is about showing off? Do we want our kids ending up as the insecure social climbers who joined the exclusive Jewish country clubs where word went out that being part of Bernard Madoff's investment fund was a privilege reserved for a chosen few and that they better beg to be admitted? I SEE a lot of Jewish people walking around these days with a red string on their wrists. Popularized by the Kabbalah Center, it's supposed to ward off the eiyan ha'ra, the evil eye. The original Jewish concept of the evil eye was based on the idea of not flaunting wealth so as not to incur the jealousy of those less fortunate. It was based on the beautiful Jewish value of human dignity, of not making people less successful feel bad about themselves. What was once a message of humility and simplicity has now been transformed into one in which it is permitted to sport a ten-carat diamond so long as it is accompanied by a silly piece of string...MORE...LINK

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You are an antisemitic.
You have deleted all the information from the original article that put the criticism in the correct context.
Be honest with your readers and don't erase the phrases that put the text out of context.