I do not know how many of you saw the response from Confessions from the Sandwich Generation to my post this past Sunday, 8/19. (By the way, do yourself a favor and check out her BLOG about caring for both children and aging parents, it is well worth the visit).
In her response she talks about sponsoring a “Cult Buster” to come to their Hebrew High School. The speaker was a Rabbi but when he was first introduced to the students, he was introduced as a speaker from Jew for Jesus. Only after making his presentation from that side and leaving was the Rabbi introduced, to give the kids a different perspective and they were shocked to see the same speaker come out. This is when they learned he was not really a member of J-F-J.
I think a presentation like this is wonderful and there are a number of things about her response that I like. I like the fact that the students got worked up when the speaker came out (when they thought he was a member of J-F-J). I like the fact that they tried to counter some of his “outrageous and false” claims. I even like the fact that when he came out in his suit and let them know he was a Rabbi and a deprogrammer that the kids felt angry. It is more the indifference and ignorance that scares me and here the students had very strong feelings.
Years ago, when I was in college, the Newman Center had a table set up in the student union, trying to make students more aware of the organization. I have no problem with that. I was involved with Jewish organizations on campus and would sometimes sit at “our” tables. We had interesting dialogue with the students representing Newman Center and even talked about doing a joint program.
One day, however, I noticed on their table some literature that had a Star of David. Thinking it was something promoting inter-religious discussions and respect, I picked it up. It was put out by Jews for Jesus. One of the students at the Newman Center table told me how this was an interesting group as they were a group of Jews that had found the Messiah, had found Jesus. The lack of knowledge and understanding they had for what this group was, frightened me. My dealings with the Newman Center were greatly diminished after this.
I have always tried to teach my son (now nine years old) that we, as Jews, should enjoy our customs and traditions and we should enjoy sharing them with others (Jews and non-Jews) but not look to force them on others or think any less of others who do not follow our customs. We should help others enjoy the fact that we enjoy our traditions. Likewise, we should enjoy other people (Jews and non-Jews) enjoying their customs and traditions. It is fun watch, to be an outsider, but just because we enjoy seeing others perform them, it does not mean it is the right thing for us.
To bring this down to its lowest common denominator, we can go out and look at other people who have put up Christmas lights and decorations. We can enjoy how important these customs are to them. But, these are not our customs and traditions. We should be respectful of them and they should be respectful of us.
Unfortunately, when it comes to cults, they are not respectful of others and we need to be very careful and cautious of them.
A big Thank You to Confessions from the Sandwich Generation for getting me to blog on this topic.