[Editor's Note: Normally we don't comment on blog pieces, but this one needs this comment: this piece will be humorous to those steeped in Jewish humor and culture and are familiar with the (often inappropriate) stereotyping of Jewish mothers: this piece plays with that stereotype to emphasize Jewish mothers' sensitivity to tikkun olam. But if you are not into that humor and culture, don't be surprised if this doesn't seem so funny.]
During text study at one of our meetings of OS JUSTICE, the social justice committee I chair at Or Shalom Jewish Community in San Francisco, we discovered some secret verses of a not-so-minor prophet named Yiddishe Mama Isaiah. I’d like to share a little bit of it from chapter 58.
Nu, so what have you done for social justice lately?
What, you think Props 30, 34, 35, 36, and 37 will pass themselves? You don’t care about voting No on 32? But enough with your voting-shmoting and your fasting-shmasting only once a year. For this you want a big prize? Look, bubbele, if you like it, a be gezunt, go and be healthy. Who am I to tell you what to do?
But now that you ask… is it too big a deal for you to make a little social change? When I told you “Observe what is right and do what is just” (Isaiah 58:2), you thought it’s a bisl joke I make?
You don’t call, you don’t write, you don’t engage in civil disobedience. What, I should change the world myself? Once a year you read me in shul and the rest of the year I’m dead to you? This I should be happy about?
You think I want you to dress up like a big shot, to beat your chest like a gorilla? Feh! You think I want you to be hungry, even on our holy Day of Atonement? Pooh, pooh! Never go hungry. Unless you’re hungry for justice. Unless you’re fasting “to feed the hungry, house the homeless, heal the sick, and tend your community” (Isaiah 58:5-7). You don’t know we need this? How many personal invitations do you want? I should engrave one just for you?
A fancy-shmancy limousine should come get you? Don’t be a schmendrick! Stop stealing from the community and do your part, bubbele. Be a mensch. You ask me how? Nu, I would never tell you what to do. Not in five thousand seven hundred and seventy three years.