Assimilation is a dangerous thing. It’s no wonder that Jewish communities through the ages have fought it. In today’s culture, many think this is just silly, old-fashioned nonsense. Here in the U.S., we expect everyone who moves here to assimilate. If you want to live here, you must learn our ways. During the eight days of Channukah, we learn about how the Jews fought off the Greeks who wanted to do away with the Hebrew religion. We talk about how the Greeks outlawed Torah observance. They defiled the Beit HaMikdash, outlawed circumcision and Shabbat. The Maccabees defeated the Greeks and restored the Temple service.
What we don’t usually discuss are the many Jews who chose to side with the Greeks, the Hellenists. These were people who chose to assimilate into Greek culture. Many of these lost their lives as well, but unfortunately, Hellenism remained in Israel.
There is a new form of Hellenism today. But, rest assured, it has the same goal; the destruction of the Jewish people. There are secular Jews living all over the world who dwell in varying degrees of assimilation. Some have no connection to Judaism at all while others celebrate holidays. This assimilation can be associated with erosion. Erosion works slowly but can wipe out large areas over time. It comes in waves. It is often slow and steady, but at times there are fast, uncontrollable bursts, such as what we see happen to beaches during a hurricane. After the storm is over, large portions of the beach are simply gone.
Assimilation is working the same way in the Jewish communities around the world. The outside world is always there with its idolatrous elements constantly making their presence known. In the US, the christian religion is so rooted in the culture, that Jews have no choice but to go along with it in some cases. For example, many companies are closed on christian holidays. Jews who work there must take those days off. What’s worse is that they get paid for their time off. This is receiving direct benefit from the observance of a non-Jewish holiday. It is wrong, but for many, there is no choice. I faced this situation once where the holiday fell on a day I usually worked. The company I worked for at the time decided to pay double time for those who worked that day. It was a dilemma in that I could choose not to work that day and give the appearance of observance or work it and receive benefit from it. I took that day off and took the loss of pay for that day. Hopefully, I made the right choice.
Christianity is so deeply rooted in this country in many ways. We see its symbols all over the place. Barely a day goes by without seeing them. That is another great reason to keep Shabbat. The problem with these symbols is that our minds continue to see them even after the fact. We see them as we drive to work, shop, or go to school. We hear about them in conversations with others; even those conversations we overhear. They are inescapable.
This is one of the biggest problems that the Jewish community has faced in this country. It is my belief that all Jews should return to Israel where their customs are accepted outright and in some instances, are the law of the land. As a person who has only been studying Judaism for a short time, I don’t see any logical reason for Jews to stay where they are not wanted when there is a place for them that does want them. The main reason, as I see it, for Jews to stay here is assimilation.
What exactly is assimilation? Assimilation is the process by which a person or persons acquire the social and psychological characteristics of a group. Social characteristics are easier to change than psychological ones. Some Jewish families have been here since revolutionary times and don’t feel like they should leave. This has become their ancestral home. They have a right to stay here. I would argue that just because you have the right to do something, doesn’t mean you should. The characteristics of Jews in the U.S. are different from those in Israel. The place is very different. Becoming accustomed to its customs would take time. There would be a lot to learn. Many of us are either too scared, too lazy, or too complacent to try. I, for one, can’t wait until I get the chance to move to Israel. I accept that it will be hard and different. But, we will all be there eventually anyway. Why not sooner than later.
Assimilation has again reared its ugly head. There is currently a big wave about to take us like that hurricane we discussed earlier. Many are talking about the missionary that is scheduled to attend an Orthodox Synagogue in Boca Raton, Florida. He is coming under the guise of doing a motivational speech for the congregants. Having left christianity, I know their tricks. I know how they think. This will be a huge feather in the cap of this specific missionary. It will also set a precedent for future missionaries. We already had a target on us. Now it is getting bigger and easier to hit. Christians will now look for other reasons to come and give speeches. They are attempting to worm their way into one of the last vestiges of Judaism; one they have not been able to penetrate before. This is just like the army who makes a small hole in the city wall during a siege. They will keep hammering at it until they break through. The worst part of it is that we invited them in. We are opening the gates and providing first-class travel so that they can do to us what they have been at for two thousand years.
There are some who will say I am overreacting. He is probably a nice guy who is just doing his job. Let him come and give his little talk and it will all blow over. He won’t convert anyone. He’s just talking about improving our lives. It’s not even religious. Well, if it’s not going to be a religious talk, why are we having it in Shul? If we want to improve our lives, we should discuss Torah in Shul. He may not convert anyone on the spot, but he will plant a seed in someone’s mind. This person will begin to question, maybe in only a small thing. That is how erosion works. Look at the rock which has a small drop of water hitting it. Soon enough it has a hole in it. Do you want this man to start drilling a hole in a holy Jewish soul? I don’t. To be fair, he probably is a nice man. I don’t care how nice he is. I’d rather he show his true colors and be true to his church. They have always wanted to destroy Jews. Am I supposed to believe that now, after all these years, they just changed their minds? Not likely. The goal of every missionary is to make more christians. If they can convert a Jew, it’s like they get extra credit. Do they get bonus points for this?
Assimilation has been fast on the heels of the Jewish people for a long time. It’s not new. The final question comes down to this. Do you want to be one of the Hellenists who invited and joined the Greeks? If you are okay with a christian missionary speaking in the Beit Knesset, you are snubbing your nose at those who fought and those who died to defend us against idolatry.
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