Monday, May 5, 2008

Judaism and Education

Sometimes I read an article on another site and have to respond in length. This is one of those times. The article is from RADARSITE: Racism: The Arabs, The Jews and Me.

In the comment section I wrote:

I afraid the that the myth of Jewish intelligence was started by American Jews.

Let me explain before you get all hot and bothered.

People ask me why I have a very Christian first name. The reason I give is the following:

Up until the 1970's there was a quota system for the best American Universities. The quota for Jewish students was 13%. So only the best and brightest Jewish students would go. In some schools it was 3%.

Can you imagine growing up and having your parents drum into your head: "You have to be smarter, better than all the other kids if you want to get into a good college." Can you imagine the pressure on the kid with that being taught to him or her?

The second way to get in would be to sneak under the radar. You didn't put down your religion on the application. It helped if you had a Christian name or Christian sounding name. So many Jewish children were given Christian names (like I was).

This was a sad chapter in the history of America, and thank God it has been corrected. But the myth is firmly in place.

Today Jewish parents don't tell their kids that they have to be better than the other kids. They just tell them to do their best.
I want to expand on this.

Growing up Jewish in the 40's, 50's and early 60's wasn't easy in my neighborhood. I got the usual name calling: Christ Killer, and worse. And I got into the usual fights, I have the broken nose to prove it too. But this wasn't the real anti-Semitism that was insipient in the US. There was the unofficial anti-Semitism that was rampant.

Have you ever wondered why Jews dominate certain professions in the US? Why are there many Jewish lawyers, doctors, accountants? Why Hollywood is filled with Jewish actors and actresses? In those days you didn't many Jews who were graduates from Harvard or Yale. They went to local schools, state schools. They earned their degrees and went on with their education or lives.

When certain professions were closed to us, we pushed our way into them. When young Jewish doctors were told that they couldn't practice medicine in their hospitals, we opened up our own. That is why there is a Mount Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles and Maimonides Hospital (now medical center) in Brooklyn. We wouldn't be denied.

When our nation called we rose to the challenge. Many served and died for this nation. The military was an equal opportunity discriminator. There Jews faced discrimination from many officers and NCO's because of their faith. But they endured. They strove to be the best they could be. And many won the respect of their Commanders for their actions.

We founded Hollywood studios, laid the basis for American comedy first at our resorts in the Catskills (because the Christians refused to allow us into theirs), and set up the first national television and radio networks. All because we had the drive and ambition to do this. Not to control American culture. America thrived and grew in spirit because of this.

The guiding force behind the drive of the Jewish people is very simple. It is education. In the Jewish community the most educated men were the leaders. To be educated was and is to be respected. The more education, the more respect the person garnered. Thus Jews strove for high excellence in education.

This is best demonstrated in some small facts:

  • Israel is a nation of 7 million people but has the highest literacy rates in the Middle East and one of the highest in the world.
  • Jews as a whole, have the highest educational level of all minorities in the US. The average is a Masters Degree.
  • Israel is one of the most technologically advanced nations on Earth. They do not import in the experts they need to achieve such excellence. They raise them themselves.
Is it genetics? It would be easy to say it was genetics and toss the whole thing off to genetics. It would just be another excuse for laziness and ignorance. I can't get a head because my genes are bad. Would be the new rally cry for the so-called oppressed minorities in the world. Just another bad break in a whole string of bad breaks.

No. What is the real reason for this imbalance in the professions is that the parents of Jewish children wouldn't let their children become victims. They made them strive for the excellence. They made them study. They demanded that their teachers be the best. They made sure their children went to school. They instilled in their children a love of learning. They made them reach for the moon. And many times they got it.

Related stories:

In DNA ear, New Worries About Prejudice


Magdeburger Joe said...

You hit a home run with this article. It puts a lot on the table that needs to be discussed. Megakudos!!!

Findalis said...

And it is time we talk about it. There should be no subject that we cannot discuss. Even one's we are fundamentally opposed to .

WomanHonorThyself said...

what a beautiful and courageous post !

Roger W. Gardner said...

What a terrific post. You are a rising star in the blogoshpere. Congrats!