Having been born and raised in Providence, Rhode Island, I attended the Providence Hebrew Day School. It was the first and, at the time, only day school in the state, and I am proud to report that five of my relatives started the school. They were determined to give their children, as well as other Jewish children in the state of Rhode Island, a full Jewish education.
To that end, sometime during the 1940s, these five men boarded a train in Providence and headed for New York to meet with rabbis and educators in order to get their help and learn how to go about starting a school. Several meetings took place subsequent to that first one, and the Rhode Island men kept at it. Exactly how this awesome task was accomplished I am uncertain, but accomplished it was. I can attest to this, as my sister and I never attended public school. I was enrolled in one of the first classes at the PHDS, as we called it. To the delight of my parents, I was among those children who graduated in the third class of the school’s existence, and my sister graduated three years later.
Jewish awareness in Providence at that time was limited, and there were fewer than a dozen students in my class. Our curriculum consisted of learning Chumash, Pirkei Avos, berachot, and Ivrit b’Ivrit. One of the earliest lessons that we were taught was to know the Ten Commandments. We learned them both in Hebrew and in English, and it is doubtful that any of us ever forgot a single one of them. Naturally, I have no knowledge of whether or not everyone in the class always obeyed all ten of the commandments. I can speak only for myself and I will allow that, although I have always done my best, there have been times when I have fallen short.
Recently, I have begun to feel that I would be better off if there had been an eleventh commandment. This might be because, unless I am incorrectly interpreting the existing ten, there is no commandment that specifically states “Thou Shalt Not Hate,” and I must confess that, lately, I am doing a lot of hating. This is a problem and it stems from the fact that I watch too much news on television. It’s probably not necessary to acknowledge that I watch Fox News, which, to their credit and despite what many on the left think, is not totally one-sided. Most, but not all, of the moderators give everyone a chance to air his or her views. Supporters of the left, liberals, and supporters of socialism get to appear regularly on several of the programs as invited guests and are given the opportunity to speak their minds. Frankly, I often wish they would not have that opportunity. The list of people I have come to despise is long and growing ever-longer. For a variety of reasons, this is not a good thing, since listening to hate-filled diatribes causes me aggravation and raises my blood pressure to unhealthy levels. I sometimes scream at the television! In spite of the fact that I never saw a commandment that explicitly says “Thou Shalt Not Hate,” I am reasonably sure we are not supposed to hate. But all too often I find myself hating somebody.
There is, however, a small plus side to all of this because, if nothing else, I am able to fight temptation — the temptation to name these people. One of the long lists of things that bother me is that several of those who are driving me crazy with their inane rhetoric are fellow Jews. With their extreme hatred of our president, these people who are in the public eye (but I’m still not naming names!) are bordering on the delusional.
Because antisemitism is currently the order of the day, not a single one of these Jews has publicly condemned the “squad.” Members of the squad could have traveled with more than 70 other congressmen and women to Israel. It was a bipartisan group, as both Republicans and Democrats made the trip. But Congresswomen AOC, Omar, and Tlaib chose not to go. Of course! Because they had no desire to speak with Israelis. The itinerary didn’t work for them because they wanted to speak only with Palestinians.
Two of them, Omar and Tlaib, wanted to travel there on their own. They want Israel wiped off the map and to have a one-state solution. The state, of course, would be named “Palestine.” As is his right, Netanyahu denied these two squad members entry into the country. Next, on humanitarian grounds, Tlaib was offered the option of entry into Israel in order to see her aging grandmother. She claimed that was what she wanted. But, predictably, two days later she turned down the offer. It seems that a visit with Grandma isn’t all that important to her after all.
And the beat goes on. Still, nobody on the left has yet to voice a single criticism of the blatant antisemitism and anti-Israel bias. That there has been no disagreement with BDS of Israel is nothing short of a total outrage. Uh-oh, there I go again, hating! Feeling as strongly as I do, I desperately need an eleventh commandment to keep me in check. The situation is sad, but it is a fact and just the way it is.
Hannah Berman lives in Woodmere and gives private small-group lessons in mah-jongg and canasta. She can be reached at Savtahannah@aol.com or 516-295-4435.