Part Seven: The Phenomenon of the Jewish Un-Jew
(For Ellen of blessed memory.)
This is a ten-part series of online articles that, with G-d’s help, I hope to transform into a larger book. It is prompted and inspired by questions I have been asked over the past half century by my readers and particularly these past five years by non-Jewish political conservatives of Christian background who often love Jews but cannot figure us out. Because most online opinion articles range between 600-3,000 words, this subject cannot be treated properly and completely in one single article or even in a limited series. However, this series marks an ambitious effort to address a perplexing question, one that perplexes America’s one million Orthodox Jews more than it does even non-Jewish conservative Christians.
The purpose of this series is to inform readers authentically as to what Jews believe, to demystify. For those who live by other monotheistic faiths, may you be blessed in your pursuit of justice, kindness, morality, and ethics as you serve the One True Creator according to your understanding and belief. As explained in greater detail in Part 4, Judaism does not permit Jews to proselytize others.
Previous installments in this series can be found at these links:
Part One: The Basic Definitions of Jews and Non-Orthodox Jewish Denominations — can be found here.
Part Two: The Orthodox — can be found here.
Part Three: The Ethnicities — can be found here.
Part Four: Non-Jews — can be found here.
Part Five: What Jews Who Know Authentic Judaism Believe: The Oral Law and Written Law — can be found here.
Part Six: The Architecture of Judaism — The Talmud, the Halakhic Codes, and Authoritative Rabbinic Responsa — can be found here.
9. The Phenomenon of the Jewish Un-Jew
In recent months, it has become rather prevalent for Orthodox and other proudly identifying Jews to start publishing major think pieces about the phenomenon of the “un-Jewish Jew.” Some call those sorts “self-hating Jews.” I call them Jewish apostates because that term is least loaded subjectively and most accurate linguistically. Think of George Soros, Bernie Sanders, and the two Jewish apostates, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, who left New York City’s racially diverse metropolis to live in Vermont, which is 94 percent White, to create milky white Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. These stand-out Jewish apostates are the most evident manifestation of the much broader sickness of Knee-Jerk Jewish Liberalism, which this series explains. These apostates have prompted the growing body of commentary now appearing. Thus, in recent years, Dennis Prager has written on the subject many times, as has the conservative (small “c”) Jewish radio host Mark Levin. Conservative editor and opinion maker Ben Shapiro, an Orthodox Jew, has spoken and written on the subject often, as has one of Israel’s greatest living heroes and unifiers, former Soviet refusenik Anatoly Sharansky. Rabbi Yaakov Menken, managing director of the Coalition for Jewish Values, has written on this topic, and so have I.
We all have become increasingly frustrated that Jewish apostates control Jewish access to media, so will not let us in. They attempt unfairly to portray to the broader non-Jewish population that they reflect Judaism. Nothing could be further from the truth. Devout Catholics know this frustration — and even angst — better than do even Jews: all over the media, we Americans are told that Joe Biden is a faithful Catholic, that Nancy Pelosi adopts her positions “as a Catholic,” and so on. Andrew Cuomo is a Catholic. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, John Kerry, Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia who ran with Hillary Clinton, Robert O’Rourke who sometimes skateboards to the name “Beto,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the Kennedy Family of Massachusetts, Sen. Pat Leahy of Vermont, Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts, Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, dozens of pro-abortion House members like Ted Lieu of California, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, TV hosts Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Kimmel, and so many other scores among American leftist celebrities, entertainers, and media personalities present “as a Catholic” as though it is their Vatican-rooted theological devotion that compels them to advance abortion on demand and even to terminate babies who have survived abortion or to endorse non-binary sexual notions, converting elementary schools’ bathrooms to accommodate transgenderism, and to advance critical race theory.
Devout Catholics — authentic Catholics whose beliefs and practices are rooted in sincere theology and not in passing political currents — know how painful it is that their deep faith and core religious beliefs barely can break through into the general mass media. Yes, they can get into Fox News — Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, Newt Gingrich, and several others. They have some voices in Congress, on talk radio, and in internet publications like this one. Nevertheless, they cannot reach the greater American mind because Jack Dorsey of Twitter, Jeff Bezos who built Amazon, Marc Zuckerberg of Facebook — these people lock out voices. So do the Washington Post, the New York Times, CNN, and the major commercial TV news networks. So it goes for deeply believing Protestants. They cannot break through or get in. When a Jim and Tammy Bakker run into scandal, or a Jimmy Swaggart, or the Falwells, the media are on the story. Movies about religion under scandal get made for mass release, but movies that honor religion and religious values are suppressed, relegated to crowd funding and limited screenings. This is what it is for people of devout faith, whether Christian or Orthodox Jewish.
Hollywood has been more prejudiced against Judaism — yes, Judaism and authentic observers of Judaism — than the American mind can fathom. In Judaism, we are obliged to marry endogamously. Realistically, to maintain a strictly kosher kitchen (see, e.g., Part 5 of this series) everyone in the household must observe the kosher requirements. A single error causes massive inconvenience to “re-kosher” the oven, the stove, the flatware. It can be a logistical nightmare. Likewise, everyone has to be in sync with Sabbath observance. We do not watch television on Shabbat or handle money or use electronics on the Holy Day. It just does not work if one spouse is in the dining room hosting Shabbat visitors and their families as lunch guests while other household members are watching TV in the family room cheering on college football teams. And so it goes. We seek to rear our children with one belief system; we could not have survived two thousand years in Diaspora, in the face of persecution and overwhelmed demographically and culturally, if otherwise. Yet virtually any depiction of Jews on TV or in the movies has the Jew intermarried to a non-Jew. The Jews of Hollywood endeavor to undermine authentic Judaism in America by presenting something false, gods in their own images, to the majority culture who have limited other access to knowing what is what. This sabotage has intensified through the past half century. They confer upon us, what, Kyle and the Broflovski family of South Park?
Even the great symbol of Israeli Zionism, in the era long past when Hollywood celebrated Israel 60 years ago because it then was governed by socialist–leftists, was the Paul Newman character in Exodus. They deliberately paired “Ari ben Canaan” with Eva Marie Saint’s non-Jewish blonde “Kitty Fremont” from Indiana. CBS aggressively promoted Bridget Loves Bernie. ABC’s Thirtysomething had Jewish Michael Steadman married to Hope Murdoch, a non-Jew. When ABC tried a sit-com with Jackie Mason, so ethnically Jewish a comedian that he even built his reputation on Broadway by self-stereotyping, they concocted a story line matching him with a tall Christian woman played by Lynn Redgrave (the Redgrave sister who is not an anti-Semite). Beyond that, one runs into even more purely disgusting variations like Amazon’s Transparent, too vile to elaborate. Why did Hollywood make that family Jewish? There was no more need for its characters to have been portrayed as Jews named Pfefferman than as Dothraki or Klingons.
In the movies, Jews invariably are intermarried. None observes strict kosher or Sabbath lifestyles — ever — except for Hollywood’s outliers that prove Hollywood could do it right and respectfully … if they wanted. The exception is when Hollywood depicts Old World Jews evoking memories of the long-disappeared Russian-Ukrainian-Polish shtetl. (See Part 2 of this series.) Accordingly, the Jews in Fiddler on the Roof wear yarmulkas and tzitzit strings on their shirt garments’ fringes, sing about “Tradition,” and bless their daughters as the Sabbath rolls in. An old rag-merchant Zaydie (grandfather) in Canada with a horse and buggy is depicted reverentially in Lies My Father Told Me. And Gene Wilder memorably portrayed a deeply respectable and profoundly likable pious Orthodox rabbi in mid-1800s “Gold Rush”-era San Francisco in The Frisco Kid — but the next generations, soon enough, make a mockery of all that is left. Netflix now produces one anti-Orthodox series after another. To humor ourselves, we Orthodox are left with two Israeli series: Srugim (three fabulous seasons, Modern Orthodox Jews who live a life in Israel somewhat akin to Seinfeld and Friends types, available on Amazon) and Shtisel (also three excellent seasons, Haredi Jews in Israel, available on Netflix as a sop to justify their anti-Orthodox garbage).
In great measure, the problem of the Un-Jew lies rooted in the psychoses these pathetically insecure people carry, crushed spiritually by centuries of prejudice and desperately trying to fit in where they are not wanted and never will be accepted. These un-Jews of the woke have been broken, shattered. If America had not brought in Africans to be slaves, and if America had not retained aspects of deep prejudice and bigotry against Blacks well into the 1950s, almost all of today’s sociological challenges would not be what they are — especially because honest Americans know that our societal structure is not a twinge racist, and certainly not Systemically Racist. In the same way, as will be discussed ahead, America’s genteel anti-Semitism marked the essence of what Jewish immigrants to Ellis Island encountered during the century between the mid-1800s and the mid-1900s. Ultimately, America’s war against Hitler changed those prejudicial attitudes at home, as pictures and data from the concentration camps filtered to the West. Until then, the genteel bigotry — “gentleman’s agreements” to keep Jews out — forced Jews to found their own industries where non-Jews had not already established themselves and thus could not yet close Jews out.
Charles Fleischman of Cincinnati had become wealthy beyond words in the yeast business, but he still could not rise fully. He was barred from major hotels, so he finally bought an entire city — which, to this day, is named Fleischmann’s, New York (replete with apostrophe-“s”) — and built a grand five-star resort hotel there for himself; soon, other Jews entered the resort-hotel industry that came to define the Catskills Mountains of the 1950s and 1960s. Jews in Vineland, New Jersey found themselves propertied alongside a Protestant fundamentalist during Prohibition; Thomas Bramwell Welch was determined to create and market a non-alcoholic alternative to wine, so Jews converted their farms to sell him the grapes for his pasteurized juice that would not ferment. Jews who had been kept out of practicing medically in hospitals and from lounging in country clubs built their own. Jews barred from major law firms, despite their Order of Coif attainments at Harvard, Yale, and Columbia law schools, started their own firms and knew that, to survive and succeed, they had no choice but to be better than the others. Jews went into aspects of alcohol distilling in Louisville under assumed non-Jewish names like I.W. Harper (for Isaac Wolfe Bernheim), Evan Williams, Elijah Craig, and Old Fitzgerald. They went into ladies garment manufacturing, which required artistic skills, not linguistic charm. No woman would parade around with a “Lifshitz” label, so Lifshitz changed his name to Ralph Lauren. Soon, Jews were all around the industry from Anne Klein, Calvin Klein, Diane von Furstenberg, and Donna Karan, to Kenneth Cole, Michael Kors, and Isaac Mizrachi. Levi Strauss saw opportunity in denim during the San Francisco Gold Rush; a century later, as jeans became a designer item, the Sephardic Israeli Nakash brothers founded Jordache, the Sephardic Marciano brothers founded Guess Jeans, and Eli Kaplan became central to “Sergio Valente,” a fictional surname sexier on one’s tight jeans than “Kaplan the Kohen Temple Priest.”
Genteel anti-Semites preferred not patronizing stores of Jewish immigrants, so Jews thought “outside the box” by creating “Big Box” stores to make their wares so indispensable that even the bigoted would buy from them to get name-brand quality at a fair deal. Those Jews created department stores, crushing stereotypes with no-haggle price tags and everything under one roof. And so it began:
There were Joseph Bernard Bloomingdale and Lyman Gustave Bloomingdale, the sons of Bavarian German Jews. There were Isaac, Lehman, and Philip Sanger (The “Sanger Bros.” of Texas), later Baum & Sanger when cousin Asher Mandelbaum joined them to sell Texans dry goods and fancy merchandise like velvet ribbons, fine cutlery, perfume, jewelry, pistols, fiddles, ladies’ garters, flannel blankets, boots, shoes, saddles, and traveling bags. Then Herbert Marcus, a Jewish buyer for Sanger Bros., and his sister, Carrie Marcus, and her husband A.L. Nieman decided to turn down an offer to buy shares in Coca-Cola and instead started Nieman-Marcus for oil-rich Texans in 1907. The family slogan was “Founded on Bad Business Judgment.” Back in New York, Herman Bergdorf, a French Alsacian tailor, opened a department store with his 23-year-old Jewish apprentice, Edwin Goodman. Abraham Abraham and Joseph Wechsler started yet another department store in 1865 Brooklyn, “Wechsler & Abraham,” and then the Straus Brothers, Isidor (who later died with wife Ida on the Titanic) and brother Nathan (an early ardent Zionist for whom the modern Israeli city of Netanya is named), bought out Wechsler in 1893, changing the store name to Abraham & Straus. Meanwhile, Isidor Straus also ran a crockery shop in the basement of a larger store run by Rowland Hussey Macy, Sr., a tattooed Quaker and captain of a Nantucket whaling ship, the “Emily Morgan.” R.H. Macy died of kidney disease in 1877 and his two business partners died serially in 1878 amd 1879. Over the next two decades, as the store’s crockery sales expanded into chinaware and glass crystal stemware, eventually the Straus brothers bought the whole enterprise, retaining both the name “R.H. Macy’s” and the red star logo that had been the pride of Rowland Macy’s arm tattoos. A few blocks away, Andrew Saks created Saks Fifth Avenue and later merged with other German Jews, the Gimbels. Meanwhile, in Tennessee, Abraham Schwab, who had immigrated from France, had opened a dry goods store with the Hirsch family, but they split. Eventually, his sons Sam, Elias, and Leo operated the store. Someone in the family finally came up with their famous Beale Street slogan: “If you can’t find it at A. Schwab, you’re probably better off without it.”
Back in the Midwest, a jeweler had refused delivery on a shipment of watches. A non-Jewish guy, Richard Warren Sears, purchased and sold them low, making a profit. He thus began a mail-order business in Minneapolis, calling it the R.W. Sears Watch Company. Soon after, he met Alvah C. Roebuck, a watch repairman. Sears and Roebuck next relocated to Chicago, where they published Richard Sears’s first mail-order catalog, offering watches, diamonds and jewelry. Amid the national Panic of 1893 a deep recession caused a national cash squeeze leaving large quantities of merchandise unsold. Roebuck left, and Sears sold that half to Chicago businessman Aaron Nusbaum. Sears owed money to Nusbaum’s brother-in-law, Julius Rosenwald. Barney Pressman named his department store simply: Barney’s. Likewise Sidney and Herb Hubschman of Harrison, NJ: Two Guys. And New York’s E.J. Korvettes was the brainchild of Eleven Jewish Korean Veterans who got back together after the war and opened a department store. Out West, there were the Gumps of San Francisco, the (Asher and sons David and Moses) Hamburgers Department Store of Los Angeles, the Auerbachs of almost everywhere in Utah, Meier & Frank in Portland, and the Goldwaters of Phoenix. Maxwell Kohl created Kohl’s of Milwaukee, and David May created The May Co. of St. Louis with his wife’s brother, Moses Shoenberg.
American consumers, even the genteel anti-Semites, learned to buy at stores owned by Jews . . . and to pay retail without haggling.
Jews are people like everyone else. Some are righteous, some despicable, most ranging between the two end points. The worst of Jewish bums have gone into crime. When the most ornery among the Jewish immigrants felt they could not trust the Italian crime syndicates, the more entrepreneurial among those Despicables organized their own crime outfits: “Big Jack” Zelig, Harry “Gyp the Blood” Horowitz, Arnold Rothstein, Irving “Waxey Gordon” Wexler, Arthur “Dutch Schultz” Flegenheimer, Benny “Bugsy” Siegel, Louie “Lepke” Buchalter, Jake “Gurrah” Shapiro, Harry “Pittsburgh Phil” Strauss, Detroit’s Purple Gang, Abe “Kid Twist” Reles, Abner “Longie” Zwillman, Mickey Cohen in Los Angeles, and of course Meyer Lansky. Their victims overwhelmingly were Jews like Herman Rosenthal and Joe Rosen. Unlike some other contemporary American demographic groups in today’s inner cities who view the disturbingly high numbers of their own young imprisoned males, the high crime rates in their own neighborhoods, the one-parent broken homes with absent fathers, the near-exclusivity of their own group’s population as the predominant victims of the criminals — and then turn around and blame it all on the police, the laws, the economy, and the society around them — the Jewish immigrant community of that time conceded their crime problem — and spit the vermin out. The Jewish community made no excuses, dissociated from the Mob, and watched them get executed — exactly as they deserved — on New York’s “Old Sparky” . . . or by each other.
Jews welcomed and invited police and law enforcement, even though “New York’s Finest” often instigated and were at the center of several near-pogroms like the violent mass arrests during the 1902 New York Kosher Meat Riots, when Orthodox women poured kerosene on butchers’ products and set them ablaze in the streets, and the bloodbath that occurred on Manhattan’s Lower East Side during the public mourning procession of 50,000-100,000 Jews at the funeral of Rabbi Jacob Joseph, the only person ever invited to be “Chief Rabbi of America.” The only times the community looked the other way were in the 1940s when the Jewish Mob allied with the Italian Mob to beat up and mangle Nazi supporters at pro-Hitler rallies in Yorktown, Manhattan, and in Hudson County, New Jersey. Organized crime later worked together again on New York’s docks where Italian and Jewish longshoremen’s unions helped run guns and other armaments to Israel while Harry Truman imposed a complete ban on American support for Israel during its 1948 War of Independence.
But, amid “the gentleman’s agreement” subtle boycotts, Jews scoured for opportunities to support their families anywhere in the American economy that non-Jews had not yet occupied to close them out — even in comic books and in Hollywood. In comic books it was Stanley (“Stan Lee”) Martin Lieber whose Uncle Robert Solomon got him a job with Martin Goodman, married to cousin Jane. It was Joe Schuster and Jerry Siegel at D.C. Comics. (Jerry’s father, Mikhel Sigalovich, had died of a heart attack during a Cleveland clothing store hold-up, and Jerry dreamt of a world where a “Superman” might have arrived in time to rescue his dad.) Bob Kane and Bill Finger were the two Jews who co-created “Batman” comics. The D.C. chief editor was Julius Schwartz. Over at Archie comics, there were Maurice Coyne, Louis Silberkleit, and John Goldwater with Victor Gorelick as their editor.
Amid Prohibition, other Jews saw other entrepreneurial opportunities. They helped owners of bars and taverns, stuck with costly properties they no longer could utilize profitably, convert their facilities to places where they could display films. Thus, they created the theater businesses that became chains associated with Marcus Loew’s, Carl Laemmle, Samuel “Roxy” (his nickname from his baseball days) Rothafel, and even Sidney Grauman. They became middlemen renting the new short silent films, then leasing them to those new theaters they were helping convert, creating their eponymous chains. As they received complaints that the quality of the flicks was poor, some saw opportunity in founding movie studios like Paramount (Adolph Zukor, Jesse Lasky), Universal (Laemmle), Warner Brothers (Hirsz, Aaron, Szmul, and Itzhak Wonskolaser), Columbia Pictures (Harry Cohn), MGM (Marcus Loew’s Metro Pictures, Szmuel Gelbfisz who changed his name to Sam Goldwyn, and Leizer “Louie B.” Mayer), and Fox (Vilmos Fuchs). The early studios soon experimented with sound, and non-Jews who could have bought them out were persuaded that “the talkies” were a passing fad, so the Jewish families held on. They hired within the families because skilled relatives also could not get employed elsewhere and likewise were shut out by anti-Semitism, so these became family businesses. In like manner, a Jewish middleman who rented a catalog of films to a theater-chain owner might get introduced to the owner’s daughter. If it was a good marriage match, the middleman might even get a studio job. Likewise in cartoons: Leon Schlesinger, a distant relative of the Warner brothers, created “Merrie Melodies” and “Looney Tunes” and brought in Mel Blanc, the man of a thousand voices. His tombstone says it all.
That is how it worked: minority immigrant victims of closed opportunities and locked doors who, instead of whining about discrimination and expecting government to help, chose to bypass the greater societal boycotts and just create new industries of their own. Moreover, initially the films were silent, so audiences had no idea that many muscular or gorgeous early actors on screen actually had whiny voices or spoke with heavy Yiddish accents. Soon, other Jews went into the dramatic acting and comedy sides. Moe Howard, Larry Fine, and Jerry “Curly” Howard — and Shemp Howard and Joe Besser — all were Jewish, as were the Marx Brothers. Lauren Bacall really was Betty Persky, and Tony Curtis really was Bernie Schwartz. Edward G. Robinson really was Emanuel Goldenberg, and Jack Benny was Benny Kubelsky. Lorne Greene (Bonanza’s “Ben Cartwright”) really was Lyon Hyman “Chaim” Green, John Garfield had been Jacob Julius Garfinkle, Tony Randall had been Aryeh Leonard Rosenberg, and Kirk Douglas had been Isser Danielovich. Those early decades of the studios saw incredible patriotism. It is striking how uniformly patriotic, pro-American, pro-clean culture those movie studios’ films were from the very beginning through the 1950s. Before an era when Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway glamorized Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow in 1967, or when Marlon Brando and Al Pacino induced our hearts to root for the Corleone crime family in the 1970s, Hollywood’s thugs all ended up bloodied, dead, and despised. These were the studios that made so many of the John Wayne movies. Married couples slept in separate beds. It was a different time.
Those years between 1881-1914, when the Ashkenazic forebears of 90 percent of today’s American Jews entered the United States, decidedly were not a time of the “Jewish Un-Jew,” the “Self-Hating Jew,” the Jewish Apostate. Those Jews knew something, and many of their parents and grandparents were on site to anchor them — at least a bit. One could not find deeper American patriots than an Irving Berlin (Israel Beilin, the son of an Orthodox synagogue cantor who later supported the family by working at a kosher meat market and giving children Hebrew lessons). In time he married out of the religion and composed “White Christmas.” Yet he reflected to his dying day at age 101 the deep patriotic love for this amazingly kind and wonderful Christian country that took in his family as they fled the Tsar. Even while assimilating and dissolving into the American melting pot, he composed these words in 1938:
While the storm clouds gather far across the sea
Let us swear allegiance to a land that’s free.
Let us all be grateful for a land so fair
As we raise our voices in a solemn prayer:
God bless America, land that I love,
Stand beside her and guide her
Through the night with the light from above.
From the mountains to the prairies
To the oceans white with foam,
God bless America, my home sweet home.
Something started changing in the 1980s and 1990s as many of all backgrounds experienced the good life, abandoning their roots now a full century and more since arriving in Ellis Island, and as their great-grandparents and then their grandparents died. What changed among Jews here has been:
1. The rise of the Abysmally and Absolutely Ignorant American Jew Who Knows Judaically from Nothing, and
2. The American Self-Asserting “Jew” Who Simply Is Not and Never Was a Jew under any classical definition of the term.
By contrast, here is a Torah-learned Orthodox Jewish Hasid singing that patriotic song for tens of thousands of spectators at Citi Field in New York on April 12, 2019.