"newsletter? more like JEWSletter"
|Apr 19||Public post|
Tonight, it’s both Passover and Good Friday. Passover is a pretty fun holiday - an elaborate meal with a lot of fun quirky traditions, games, and songs, food doled out bit-by-bit, and mandatory drinking (delicious juice-drinking for the teetotalers). It’s a good fit on college campuses, and in fact many of my best seders were held at school with my core Jewish friends and an equal number of non-Jews who were game.
On the other hand, Good Friday is the day I trust Christians least, because on and on they go about the crucifixion, and that historically has not been good news for the Jews, no offense. Half of my family is Catholic, I’m generally interested in theology and literary history, and everyone learns the majority culture, so I know a thing or two about the crucifixion, and one thing I’ve noticed is that crucifixion talk generally hasn’t manifested as a protest against empire or lack of due process or scapegoating of activists or even, like, the disrespect that dogmatic orthodoxies have for reform branches of the same religion, despite the fact that these lessons could very easily be gleaned from that story. Nope, when I think of crucifixion-heads, I think of the Inquisition and Mel Gibson and the Ku Klux Klan and those bigots out yesterday on Pete Buttigieg’s lawn. Jews are usually the target, but sometimes it extends to other vulnerable minorities, because the whole vengeance angle has been claimed in general by abusers of power.
And that’s what I don’t trust, power. When I say, hyperbolically, that I don’t trust Christians (who, again, constitute a big part of my family, friends, and people I know, trust, and love), I’m saying that I don’t trust power, the same way I don’t trust Jews in Israel and the same way I feel like “I get it” (or at least get something) when women say they don’t trust men, people of color say they don’t trust white people, LGBTQ people say they don’t trust straight people, poor people say they don’t trust rich people, and people of various stripes say “all cops are bastards.” Regardless of someone’s basic goodness (something which tends to be evenly distributed) the power they hold (not evenly distributed) can constitute a threat, and that itself seems cause for suspicion.
I don’t have it bad at all. My load is very light when it comes to this stuff. In a lot of places, especially big East Coast cities where we have a critical mass, being Jewish (and white and male and heterosexual) can hardly feel like anything. Like I’ve said before, literal Jews aren’t the first Jews they’re coming for in this round. But sometimes the feeling comes out more, like when I go into Elvis Country (all white people, no Jews, no Italians), when I get glimpses of the right wing or the conspiratorial parts of the left, or, yeah, when Christians are getting into the parts of their heritage that remind me of their most dangerous habits. That feeling doesn’t stop me from going about my day or connecting to people, but also it ain’t the best. And these days I’ve been leaning into that feeling, because times are worse and I want to understand them and I just feel like people can’t be too polite to people who have power that makes them uncomfortable and sometimes a bit of hyperbole can be good catharsis.
So Christians, if you’re reading this newsletter, I trust you in general and I respect your religion, for real. What’s good is good. Come together as communities. Make art. Build beautiful buildings and keep them up. Try and be a better person. Keep rituals that remind you of an ancestral home or of family or whatever. Celebrate a rich literary tradition. Make music. Have fun. These are all great things that everyone has a right to.
And Jewish readers, happy Passover, and don’t waste too much time coddling these Christians, these irredeemable bastards, these eleventh plagues of the world, if Moses had said to Pharaoh “we’ll give you these ten plagues or we’ll give you Christians” Pharaoh would have said “what’s a little blood, frogs, lice, beasts, cattle disease, boils, hail and fire, locusts, darkness, and death of the firstborn? Just spare us these Bible-thumping assholes!” If Adonai had promised we’d never convert to Christianity, dayenu, ya know? Out there hunting around for eggs because they can’t keep them in the right place on the seder plate. That’s what happens when you follow rabbits instead of rabbis. These crybabies don’t have what it takes to wander in the desert for thirty years, they’re still going on about one guy being dead for like three days, that’s like a long weekend. And what’s with him walking on water, hot-dogging it instead of parting the sea so normal, sensible people could walk across it?
And if you’re neither Jewish nor Christian, probably fair to trust none of us, especially anyone who calls themselves “Judeo-Christian,” just as long as you trust Christians slightly less.
Anyway, in the spirit of unity, I came up with some Easter- and Passover-themed mini-sermons (really just puns and ryhmes) in support of the Stop & Shop strike in New England. It’s 31,000 workers strong, one of the largest private-sector strikes in recent times, and it’s over planned worker benefit cutbacks in a year when the parent company reaped huge profits. Some cool stuff is happening, including Teamsters joining in and refusing to cross the picket lines, local rabbis saying it’s not Kosher to buy food from Stop & Shop during a strike, and some Christian preachers also joining the cause. I’ve been pretty interested in this strike, the first I’ve really observed in real time over social media, and it’s cool because you get to see posts by normal people - employees, people who supported the picket line, shoppers who were there during the strike, people at other stores getting the redirected business. I like seeing the footprint of it. Anyone, here’s some puns:
Jesus didn’t die on the cross so you could cross the picket line. No, sir! You can’t break the union and then take communion. You better not mobilize to mass if you don’t support mass mobilization. You’re supposed to respect the Lord, not the bosses. Yes, they control the means of production, but they don’t control the means of resurrection, no sir!
You better pass over Stop & Shop and stop shopping there for passover, because Moses didn’t cross the Red Sea for you to cross the picket line. No, you can’t shop for pesach at a place where the workers’ pay sucks. Can’t shop for your seder plate where the bosses won’t negotiate. It’s no good to give up flour if you give in to power. No good to give up swine if you won’t support the line. Can’t defy the pharaoh if your wages are unfair, no.
Okay that’s enough foolishness for today. Hope it’s clearer or funnier next time. Enjoy your holidays or weekend if you have them.