I forgive you. You especially.

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To my high school Facebook friends: I forgive you.

I forgive you, especially if you fall into any of the following categories.

  • First category: those of you who have ignored me. You were athletes, cheerleaders, or badass. I was an actor and editor of the school newspaper. You were cool; I was a geek or a dweeb, or maybe both. We lived in different tribes.
  • Second category: those of you who intimidated me – precisely because we were in different tribes in high school. You ganged up on me in the locker room during gym class (yes, even guys).
  • Third category: those of you who intimidated me – not just because we were different in nature social tribes, but because we were different religious tribes. I’m referring to those who called me anti-Semitic nicknames; who laughed at the Holocaust; who accused me of having personally participated in the crucifixion of Jesus, and who said that I was going to hell (where, at the very least, I would have known a lot of people).

Fifty years later, I have forgiven you all.

  • I forgave the prom queens who thought I was a jerk – maybe because you were right.
  • I forgave the sportsmen who laughed at my physical awkwardness – maybe because you were right,
  • I even and above all forgave those of you who touched the hatred of young Jews. The truth is, it wasn’t your fault. You were captives of an old Christian anti-Semitism. The reforms of Vatican II concerning the Jews took place in 1965. This was when Pope John on the 23rdrd absolved the Jews of the guilt of the crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth.

Hey, the news traveled slowly back then. It took some of you a while to get the memo.

Why have I forgiven you all, even and especially when you have not asked for my forgiveness?

Because we are now friends on Facebook. Over the past half century, we have all learned and grown. The old cliques no longer matter. The more we meet as adults, the more we realize that we come from a common place, and that we are all on our own paths.

Oh, and one more thing.

It is the season of forgiveness.

Why? Because I am Jewish. My ancient and distant tribal father was Judah, the son of Jacob. He was the ancestor of the tribe of Judah. He was the ancestor of King David, who reigned first over the tribal area of ​​Judah, and then over the entire kingdom of Israel.

In Joseph’s story, his brothers, weary of his boasting, decide to get rid of him.

Except that Judah wins over them. What is he saying? Come on, let’s sell him as a slave. After all, he is our brother, our flesh and our blood.

When the brothers went down to Egypt to buy wheat; when they met the mighty stranger who was actually their brother Joseph; when Joseph, right behind Pharaoh, tested them – telling them that they should bring their younger brother Benjamin to him; forcing them to leave Simeon bound in front of their eyes as a hostage until they consented to bring Benjamin – that series of torments to see if they had really changed: what did Judah say?

Judah said: This is happening to us because of what I have done. Do you know why this mighty one wants to keep us all in slavery? Because years ago I arranged for us to sell Joseph into slavery. Me. I did it. My fault. It is to repay.

What does Judah say to his brothers? “But, we are guilty.”

We. All of us. My pain has turned into our pain.

My religion is Judaism.

The real founder of the Jewish faith was Judah – because these are the actions of Judah – his ability to reflect, repent, and recreate himself – this is the very essence of – there it is – Judaism itself.

There is a second Jewish religion.

If Judaism is the religion of repentance, then Josephism is the religion of forgiveness.

At the very end of the book of Genesis, Joseph’s brothers say to him: We are ready to be your slaves [just as, years ago, we sold you into slavery].

Joseph said, “Although you willed me badly, God willed it for good, in order to obtain the present result: the survival of many people.

If Judaism is the religion of repentance, then Josephism is the religion of forgiveness.

Let me offer you two stories.

The first story concerns Judaism – the religion of repentance.

It takes place in Charleston, South Carolina.

This city’s Reformed congregation, KK Beth Elohim, is one of the oldest synagogues in America. Its shrine is the oldest synagogue shrine in continuous use in America.

They recently put a plaque.

“This shrine, consecrated in 1841, replaced an earlier shrine that burned down in 1838. It was built by a Jewish builder, whose skilled workers included African-American slaves. With the building’s renovation and re-inauguration in 2020, Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim is once again dedicated to recognizing the mistakes of the past and reconciling the beliefs of our faith with our actions as we commit to spiritual growth and righteousness. social for all. “

It is sobering recognition of historical and social sin. It is the admission and the admirable determination to move forward and build a new societal sanctuary of equality.

The second story concerns Josephism – the religion of forgiveness.

Several years ago Dan Crenshaw ran for Congress as a Republican in Texas. It carries an eye path. On Saturday Night Live, Pete Davidson laughed at him for his eye patch. He said he looked like a hitman in a porn movie.

But, there’s a reason Crenshaw sported an eye patch. He was a former Navy SEAL who had been seriously injured in Afghanistan.

When Pete Davidson learned of his faux pas, what did he do?

He invited Dan Crenshaw to join him on SNL.

He apologized.

Dan Crenshaw accepted Pete’s apology. He paid tribute to Pete’s father, who was a firefighter who died on September 11 – which was the main reason Dan Crenshaw was in Afghanistan in the first place.

Pete Davidson is a progressive. Dan Crenshaw is a curator. They have nothing in common, at least politically.

But, there was a moment of grace that flowed between them – and it went through their political and sociological tribes.

In two days, the YouTube clip of that SNL moment had racked up more than 5 million views.

Of all the things that we Jews invented – monotheism; an ethical system centered on God; our great works of sacred literature; psychotherapy, the garment industry and the film industry – of all the things we Jews have invented – the best of our inventions:

Judaism. Repentance. I blew it.

And forgiveness. Joseph-ism. Yes, you missed it.

And, we are good.

To all my high school friends, it’s an honor to be in your life.


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