«Jewish Observer»
December 2002
5763 Tevet

Main page To print
- Natashenka, what is your attitude towards a national theme?
- Frankly speaking, nobody has ever asked me about the national in such form. Leonid, how would you yourself answer this question?

Dialogue in Internet

This article contains no revelations and seems to be useless for a normal reader. Perhaps, it may allow to give a prompt answer to people as a live talk demands a quick response. Unfortunately, it is not always a case. For if I am asking about the national I would not like a questioning person to leave dissatisfied. If a man asked me a question and left unanswered he would understand this all is rubbish. I wish people not left us with a similar thought. This is the reason this article has been written. It is written not for the sake of originality, but for those who ask themselves or others for the first time - what is nationality?

I have an old friend of mine. He believes there exists no notion of "nationality" and considers I am obsessed by the Jewish question and see anti-Semitism where there is no trace of it, and all like that. My friend is "a half": father is an Azerbaijani, mother - a Jew. When we once started a talk about Karabakh and I noted, rather mildly, not everything is so obvious there..., I saw this meek intelligent's blood is up

One of Stanislav Lem's works describes the world where everything is alike: professions are distributed incidentally, families are created incidentally. The society is absolutely homogeneous being stirred up once in twenty-four hours. The idea of incidental distributing social roles is found not only with Lem, but its implementation has one important difference - high frequency of stirring up. This particularity, senseless on the face of it, is, in effect, important. In a week, maximum - a month appears affection. It doesn't matter all around you are alike. Everybody smiles differently. She is mine; she distinguishes me from others (it is not clear how but, probably, she knows). A society with established families is able to resist tyranny most effectively. Any psychologist will say and explain it, the history itself will prove it. Family is a community. Here come other communities: physicists, members of the Russian society of sociologists, fans of Strugatskiye, friends of old radio equipment and so on. Nationality is one of the kinds of community.

Hardly have we said this, a group of standard questions emerges. How and when this community appeared, why and how it exists, when and why it vanishes, how it interacts with other communities and individuals being part of this community and beyond it, how it cooperates with other communities it is part of. How and when our nation spang up, why it has existed for so long - longer then all others, when and why it will disappear or this will not occur, etc. In effect, all books on the Jewish theme are about this. And there are quite a few of them...

But a person asking a question on the national for the first time is interested, rather, in its one side, which concerns us personally. He is not interested where the nation came from - for this he should, first, become aware of this nation's existence. He is interested how this, in his words, "concerns me". From my experience he aspires to understand what this will mean to him. What he will receive when, and if, he realizes himself part of this nation.

First of all, Jews are part of humans. That's why any theme, activity, sphere of interests connected with the Jewish is narrower than the same theme, activity, sphere of interests related to people in general. Jewish philosophy is narrower than world's one, Jewish law is part of a general human law, a greatest Jewish musician is no greater than a greatest musician in general. Any restriction is the narrowing, and any person defying the narrowing in principle should then study only EVERYTHING. But human capacities are restricted, it is impossible "to embrace unembraceable". If it comes to choosing, why not to choose this? Besides, through narrowing the sphere we obtain a chance to move further and, probably, to discover something absolutely new and understand it. So, if we are free to choose a sphere of activity, then a suitable to us range depends on our psychology, on correlation of our claims on the globality and on the depth. We are free in a concrete choice.

Naturally, the Jewish history differs form that of other peoples, though, as the history of any other nation does. Naturally, a proper research may show what, on the average, differs Jews from others. Even physics and business with Jews differ from others - simply because there actually exist mentality, style of thinking and, probably, biological differences.

Usually by this point the debating parties have almost scratched each other's eyes out, have cast mutual accusations in racism, Zionism, communism, homosexualism... Already speechless and cruelly spitting into each other's faces, the arguers have forgotten that Negroes, whites and Chinese differ biologically, which is seen even without a DNA test. Once there are biological differences, shouldn't there exist psychological ones? Instead of studying A and B, they cry arguing who is better: A or B.

Belonging to one group entails duties and rights, restrictions and new possibilities, feeling of protection and feeling of non-freedom.

A Jew can be a hippy and businessman, killer and saint, man and woman, can be almost naked or wear a smoking. A Jew can be Simon Vizental and an ardent anti-Semite Meir Kakhane. Is this narrow-mindedness? Personally for me, the most serious argument of belonging to the nation is Catastrophe.

Belonging to Jewry for different people may mean different things, but this is always rights and obligations. And this is questions, questions, questions. If you lack eternal questions - join us! Just to mention a problem of correlation of Judaism and liberalism! What about a problem of observing traditions? It is possible to infinitely enumerate questions. But at the moment of trial you will recall what your people have given to the world and will feel a relief. Then you will read a book, look around and inside yourself - and you will feel good.

According to a physicist and dissident Herzen Kopylov, "Hatred towards my tribe extends on me, consequently, its glory does, too".

Does the anti-Semitic world around push us to Jewishness? The answer may be both yes and no. A man may equally declare, "You want to exterminate me, but I will survive" and "You want my isolation, but I will assimilate".

It is possible to say anything, especially when the choice has been made. In effect, most offensive is that we use our far from big mental abilities not to understand, but to excuse.

The weightiest ideological power of today's Russia - Orthodox Church - upholds precisely this kind of anti-Semitism. Look how many quite intelligent persons get assimilated, willingly or not. Moreover, they are proud of that and attract others. I repent, once I made a mistake. When another blank-eyed with the emblem "Jews for Christ" attacked me near a metro station (they have made a nest on my way to work), I loudly read him a short lecture on six million. I was twice a fool: firstly, the guy worked for money and didn't care a fig at all, secondly, to appeal to conscience is always useless - if it is appealed to, so, it is absent. What for then?

"Ami", Saint-Petersburg

«Jewish Observer» - obozrevatel@jewukr.org
© 2002 Jewish Confederation of Ukraine - www.jewukr.org