A key to understanding something written or said by someone else is understanding the context in which it was written or spoken. For example, to fully understand the Constitution, you have to learn about the lives and times of the authors and the people they wrote the document for. Those things framed the meanings of their words. In a similar fashion, to understand the Scriptures, you have to understand what the words meant to the hearers. That’s why theologians study Greek, Hebrew, and ancient near eastern history. The same practice holds true for understanding the Black Lives Matter movement as a white person. Study history, both recent and that of the early years of this country. Research the failed social engineering attempts of forced bussing and building the projects. Learn about the impact that the gentrification of the inner cities is having on people. Read literature such as Soul on Ice by Eldridge Cleaver, A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry, Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin, and To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Read Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech and write down a list of the injustices he mentioned. Watch a movie like The Help (or read the book) and continually remind yourself that it was set in 1963. Listen, I mean really listen, to the album Anomaly by Lacrae. Learn the truth about Margaret Sanger and the anti-black sentiment she held as she founded Planned Parenthood. Most importantly, ask a black person that you know to explain what the movement means to him or her. Then, and only then, put feet to your convictions and become part of the solution, for if you don’t, you’re just part of the problem.
If you are a Jew, you can skip to the second paragraph. For the goyim (gentiles) reading this, Sukkos (or Sukkot) is a Jewish Holy Festival where we build and then take our meals in a temporary sukka (or booth) in obedience to the command of G-d in Leviticus 23. We do this to remember how our ancestors lived in temporary booths in the years following the Egyptian captivity. You’ll find it mentioned in the Christian scriptures in John 7 as the “Feast of Tabernacles.” On 15 Tishrei (late September/early October) we start the seven-day festival. With your introduction to Judaism freshly learned, you may be able to appreciate the brief tale that follows.
I have a funny, if not somewhat sad tale of my first Sukkos away from home. I was a freshman at Rutgers University. I went to the Newark campus which was for commuters only. Newark, NJ, like many big cities, is mostly paved. A few Jewish students and I tried to erect a sukka in the Rutgers quadrangle without the benefit of soil to stake it in or trees to tie it to. As fate would have it, Sukkos started on a very windy day so our sukka did not survive. I have to wonder if G-d looked down and said, “what schmucks, they don’t even plan to build a proper sukka,” or if He said, “such faith and commitment these kids have, believing that an untethered sukka could stand on a windy day.”
I am looking forward to finding out which of these He said.
If you are Jewish, you’ll understand this post. I don’t know who the author is but my nice Jewish mother sent it to me.
1. The High Holidays have absolutely nothing to do with marijuana.
2. Where there’s smoke, there may be salmon.
3. No meal is complete without leftovers.
4. According to Jewish dietary law, pork and shellfish may be eaten only in Chinese restaurants.
5. A shmata is a dress that your husband’s ex is wearing.
6. You need ten men for a minyan, but only four in polyester pants and white shoes for pinochle.
7. One mitzvah can change the world; two will just make you tired.
8. After the destruction of the Second temple , God created Nordstrom’s.
9. Anything worth saying is worth repeating a thousand times.
10. Never take a front row seat at a Bris.
11. Next year in Jerusalem . The year after that, how about a nice cruise?
12. Never leave a restaurant empty handed.
13. Spring ahead; fall back – winters in Boca.
14. WASPs leave and never say good-bye; Jews say good-bye and never leave.
15. Always whisper the names of diseases.
16. If it tastes good, it’s probably not kosher.
17. The important Jewish holidays are the ones on which alternate side of the street parking is suspended
18. Without Jewish mothers, who would need therapy?
19. If you have to ask the price, you can’t afford it. But if you can afford it, make sure to tell everybody what you paid.
20. Laugh now, but one day you’ll be driving a Lexus and eating dinner at 4:00 PM in Florida .