New York - Why Are Jews So Argumentative?
New York - What? You think Jews argue a lot? You got a prob lem with that?
More than 60 members of my tribe shoved into a room on the Upper West Side yesterday to tackle an age-old question that’s perplexed scholars, rabbis and folks who’d rather gouge out their own eyeballs than sit on a trans-Atlantic flight.
Namely, why are Jews so argumentative?
You might as well ask why the sky is gray.
Just bringing up the question these days seems an invitation to hatred, disdain and a longer wait time at the Carnegie Deli. But Rabbi Peter Schweitzer, of the City Congregation for Humanistic Judaism, tried to persuade the room that obnoxious and exhausting fighting is not one of Jews’ less attractive traits.
Rather, it’s “part of our cultural fabric. We challenge authority when we argue.”
But on the Upper West Side, where everything can be questioned - except leftist politics and good corned beef - you can argue about just about anything. The weather. The price of a cab ride. Anything, that is, except ironclad liberal orthodoxy.
After telling some stories about cute, Jewish kibbitzing from out of the Bible, Schweitzer made his point:
“It’s like Republicans today undermining Obama - but for no other reason than being obstructionist.”
He got laughs. But his words went completely unchallenged.
Even by me, and I’m a card-carrying Hebrew.
After the talk, a woman in the audience wondered why President Obama surrounded himself with so many Jews.
Um, because they’re smart? Ambitious? Effective?
“Did Obama pick so many Jews because he wanted an argument?” she actually said.
Her question, too, went unchallenged.
Which brings up another age-old question: Are events like these good for the Jews?
This might start an argument: I doubt it.
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