Sunday, November 25, 2007

Where is the Anti-Semitism?

A recent feature in the UK newspaper, The Times, listed what its editors considered the 20 worst anti-religious pieces of art and/or popular culture in recent decades:

What is interesting is that only one of the 20, Monty Python's "Life of Brian", is directed at Jews at all, and "Brian", the only one I've seen as an adult, satirizes the many Jewish factions that spent more time fighting each other than the Romans during the late second temple period -- something our sages might well have done themselves had they known how to do satire! It really is more directed towards Christianity than Judaism as a religion, satirizing the entire nature of the messiah as interpreted 2000 years ago. (The other work that I have seen, "Jesus Christ Superstar", I saw in junior high school and remember little if any of it. From the description it looks like it might have been written by a born again anti-Trinitarian, which is really more heresy than blasphemy as far as Christianity is concerned.) "Brian" is in fact one of the great film comedies of all time, "Superstar" has some great music, but there does not appear to be any redeeming social value in most of the remainder of the works listed.

So where are the other anti-Semitic works? I can't believe there aren't any!

Monday, November 19, 2007

A Jew turns 50

Today is my 50th birthday. When I arrived at shul this morning (a few minutes late) the gabbai asked how I was doing and I told him about my "event". He gave me the third aliyah and there was a brief series of "Mazel tovs!" I casually mentioned the mishnah (Avot 5:22) that says that I am now old enough to give counsel. The rabbi gently replied, "Don't read too much into that mishnah!" A good lesson for us all.