March 2014
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Sy Schechtman

The so called Jewish nation has a biblical history of about six thousand years, when God created the world in six days, and rested on the seventh day. He is quoted then of surveying His (and Hers?) creation and finding it “very good”. But almost immediately, in the next chapter of Genesis, the very beginning of the Hebrew Bible, when the earth was bare and not a tree had grown He created the Garden of Eden for all living things. In particular…God created man in His own image , ….. in the image of God He created them and said to them, “be fertile and increase, fill the earth and master it….”

However, even in this seeming paradise of Eden, God continued to fine tune his work. …..the Lord God said it is not good for man to be a alone; I will make a fitting helper for him. And the Lord God formed “all the the creatures of the earth….but for Adam no creature could be found. ...So the Lord God cast a deep sleep upon the man Adam while he slept, He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that spot. And the Lord God fashioned the rib that He had taken from the man into a woman, his help mate Eve, for the care of the paradise of the Garden of Eden….. Eve, who was perhaps a bit more aggressive than husband Adam, persuaded him to taste the forbidden fruit from the tree of knowledge in the center of the garden. Which disobedience of God’s edict caused their banishment from their heavenly abode. …. “because you did as your wife said, and ate of the tree that I commanded you that you shall not eat of it, all the days of your life thorns and thistles shall sprout for you… the sweat of your brow shall you get bread to eat …… until you are returned to the ground---for from it you were taken. For dust you are , And to dust you shall return.”

Religious demographers mostly agree that this initial crucial depiction of the Universe ----theologically….is about six thousand years ago. Our modern rather enormous augmentation of this estimate is to about 42 billion years, as most astrophysical Phd’s agree on the Big Bang theory as the more accurate estimate of the universe’s origin. …….. And He banished Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden. For He thought that ….now that man is like one of Us, knowing good from evil, what if he should stretch out His hand and take also of the tree of Life and live forever”?…….

……..So the Lord God banished him from the garden of Eden, to till the soil from which he was taken…….for dust you are, and to dust you shall return…….

The story of the Jewish nation specifically begins a few chapters later, after most compelling examples of world wide flood, and about the slavery of the Jews in Egypt lasting about 400 hundred years and their great prophet Moses who with God’s incisive help leads them into the promised land of Canaan. Spectacular events, including their forty year desert trek, the parting of the Red Sea only to let the Jews cross—and then engulfing and drowning Pharoah’s troops again---and the daily heavenly portions of manna, and needed protein supplements of quail. ( No vitamin supplements, so far, but scholars are still steadfastly applying for grants to investigate ancient dietary foibles that might have invigorated the Jews on their almost endless desert trek!) After forty years, however, they made it to the promised land, after many “not welcome” episodes. Near the end was another mighty event, the almost indomitable obstacle of Jericho. The Lord, again saved the day with His advice to Joshua, the new Jewish leader after Moses’ death. “March around the walls of Jericho seven times. On this seventh time let out a mighty shout and the most noisy racket on the drums and horns…!!! And thus it happened. Not quite like Hiroshima or Nagasaki in Japan in our generation but the “Walls of Jericho came tumbling down”

And a few hundred years later and many local male and female individual leaders --Samson, Delilah, Debra, Miriam, Bathsheba, Queen Esther, and and even the queen of Sheba! (And also,even Lillith, ,the somewhat pre Freudian whoreish wish fantasy). These celebrity Jews began a cohesive political entity about 1200 BCE. The city of Jerusalem was founded and soon the first Jewish commonwealth with David as hero King of the Jews. After David, a great Philistine fighter, David’s son, Solomon, became the next King, after some internecine disputes with his brothers for the succession, and then came forty years of Jewish acquisition of neighboring pagan territory. Indeed a little Empire arose under Solomon, and neighboring tribes paid tribute to the Jewish King. Solomon also had a small naval corps that that must have intrigued the queen of Sheba, who was rather deep in middle Africa and she came up to visit! But the last few chapters about Solomon are all negative and make his long reign rather dubious. Evidently he also used Jewish conscripted labor to build his famous temple, and most heinous, he had seven hundred wives!!

These latter events hastened the dissolution of the United Kingdom and the beginning of the diaspora, which has been a most burdensome presence ever since. A larger northern kingdom, Israel, and Judah, the smaller kingdom which still had the temple that Solomon had built. Both kingdoms disappeared soon after and became subject to Babylon and Persian rule. And Jewish dispersion throughout the near and middle east was common. Indeed the first translation of the Jewish writings was The Septuagint into Greek, the first translation of the biblical Hebrew scripture. This was thought necessary because Jews were abundant in the Mediterranean area after the Babylonian final conquest in 581 BC. And many people were thought to speak Greek.

Indeed Jews in the diaspora during the time between that almost legendary era and now—about 2500 years ago---gave rise to the “wandering years” of Jewish life as many regions, neighborhoods, and countries became less enthusiastic with their presence. Ancient Greece was a somewhat influential presence, and Alexandria held many Jews at a the time of the birth of Christ. I t was a sophisticated place, and has been dubbed the New York City of the ancient world. But this large, impressive Jewish group, a few generations later almost vanished, as the Jews “flourished” elsewhere. In Rome, then in Spain, Holland and England in the middle ages; before being expelled for non Christian attitudes. Germany became their homeland for most of the rest of the middle ages, and Yiddish their language of choice. Indeed, about 70 years ago my first deceased wife and myself were in the famed Roman coliseum in Italy, and to my astonishment a fellow next to me leaned over and started a conversation----in Yiddish! He laughed at my surprise as if I was back again in Borough Park, Brooklyn. Indeed Yiddish was then the linqua franca of the commercial world and most people regardless of color, race or religion were familiar with it.

So we are undoubtedly in our country as the best place to be------for the diaspora!! But barely making it. Intermarriage, indifference and assimilation are the persistent foes. In the last 50 years we as a nation have increased our total population by at least fifty million people; but the Jewish gain is so minimal that we now our now a smaller fraction of the total. Now just about 2.20% of all western religions. (About 50 years ago we were almost 3% of that total). Well below the comparatively large group Protestant and Catholic worshippers. Almost free of Jews! We are, in effect slowly making the world “Juden Rein”. Which was one of Adolf Hitlers’ prime goals. Sometimes you have to be very careful of what you pray for. Or be prepared for the very sardonic way your prayers are answered!