All groups could learn from the way Jews take care of their own

I was new to Temple Ohev Shalom in Orlando in late 1993, I was troubled and I was frightened and I was far from home, and this guy I just met in shul gave me his card and said, “If there’s anything you need, a job, a car, whatever, call me.” I’ve met a lot of Jews like that. They’re the most generous people. Yeah, they may cut some corners that WASPs wouldn’t countenance, but it doesn’t take much for them to start treating you like family, which means a great deal when your own family is on the other side of the world.

When I first started talking to rabbis, I was largely bedridden by CFS, and their first concern was for my recovery, not for my soul. I’ve never had a rabbi ask me what I believed about God. Instead, they wanted to know if I needed anything such as a car, an apartment, a job, a doctor, a place for Shabbos.

I grew up a Seventh-Day Adventist, a high-intensity religion. Adventists take good care of their own. And then I joined Judaism in 1993, and I found even more intense community.

I couldn’t imagine living without community, and yet most people I know prefer to live without it. They don’t want it cramping their style.

Living in community means constantly subordinating your own desires for the good of the group. It’s not a sacrifice most people want to make today. For me, the rewards are worth it. I love how Judaism balances individual freedom with group cohesion.

Freedom and community are opposites. You have to give up some freedom to have some community, and you have to give up some community to have some freedom.

Community is a bit like having a job. When you work for someone, you’re a slave to that entity for a certain number of hours a week. Most people most of the time find that sacrifice is worth it.

I’ve never been married, but I assume staying in a marriage means often subordinating what you want for the sake of your family. I assume that for most people, this sacrifice is a good deal.

Chris: “Jews are a communitarian minded people/community. WASPS think of themselves as competing isolated individuals who just happen to share a common ethnicity or cultural background.”

My own cold uncaring heart is unfathomable to most Jews. That I could write something negative about a fellow Jew, let alone a group criticism of Jews, is beyond the pale.

I notice that all high IQ groups tend to take good care of their own while low IQ groups rely on government welfare generation after generation.

I read: “Despite the traditional German Jewish antipathy toward the unwashed, crude and lack of refined eastern European Jews, the German Jewish immigrants set up Jewish Hospitals, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, and many other social and practical institutions to help the more recent immigrants. The German Jews did not want to be judged by the Ostjuden’s appearance and conduct.”

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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