OyChicago blog

The Deafening Silence of Apathy

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08/06/2009

Five days ago, an as-yet-unidentified assailant walked into a gay community center in Tel Aviv and indiscriminately opened fire, killing two young Jews and wounding nearly a dozen others.

Five hours ago, I received an email that read, “I'd like to see someone write an Oy! response to the shootings in Tel Aviv...”

Yeah, well, I would too. I just don’t want to be that someone. Nor do I want Chai or David to be.

We Jews are not known for our ability to bite our tongues.

We’ve rallied together under the words “NEVER AGAIN” to speak out against injustice and hatred and genocide. We tell our stories so that future generations may never forget, and never permit history to repeat itself.

Look through Jewish news sources, blogs, and agency press releases from the last few weeks and months and you’ll see that community members and leaders have repeatedly condemned Muslim leaders and conference organizers for their hateful anti-Israel and anti-Semitic words.

Go back a bit further and you’ll find mass outrage, unity, and community response after the US Holocaust Memorial Museum was the site of a brutal murder in June.

But an unidentified assailant brutally murders two young Jews in what appears to be the first publicly acknowledged hate crime in the State of Israel’s history and the socially and politically aware, strong-willed and strong-voiced young Chicago Jewish community is silent?

Or a stalker guns down a college student in Connecticut and makes threats toward Jews, and no one over here in the Great Lakes region seems to bat an eyelash?

In the particular case of the shooting in Tel Aviv, it is certainly possible that everyone is waiting with bated breath for the “obvious choices” of the gay Oy! contributors to spearhead a strong community response and speak out against the violence and spiteful rhetoric that has befallen the gay community in Israel.

Or—worse yet—have we really become so provincial and self absorbed that we can't see that what happens to others in other parts of the globe matters in our personal worlds, too?

Have we Millennials already forgotten the lessons we learned from Martin Neimöller?

"First they came for the Communists, but I was not a Communist so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Socialists and the Trade Unionists, but I was neither, so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew so I did not speak out. And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me."

Without a doubt, we must remember Hillel’s question as well: “If I am not for myself, who will be for me?”

No group can expect for others to stand up for them if they do not first stand up for themselves. The gay community cannot stand idly by and ask for others to take a stand on our behalf. But we can stand up and say that the time has come for the entire Jewish community to live up to the Talmudic teaching, “Kol Yisrael arevim zeh la'zeh (All of Israel is responsible for one another).”

Let’s band together to say that we will not tolerate any future discrimination, violence, or hatred. When you see injustice, speak out against it – either here on Oy! or in a letter to a newspaper or a phone call to your legislators.

The time has come for the Jewish community to shake off our “two Jews, three opinions” reputation and to proclaim with one powerful, unified voice, that we are for ourselves – ALL of our selves.

You can start by coming to a memorial vigil for the victims of the Tel Aviv center shooting on Monday. 
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Confessions of a Reality Show-aholic

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08/06/2009

Actual conversation…

Jason (the boyfriend) over at my apartment:  Cher, why won’t your TV let me turn the Cubs game on?
Me:  Because the DVR is on…
Jason:  Well, can I turn it off?
Me:  No, NYC Prep is taping!
Jason:  I can’t turn that off?!
Me:  Hell no!
Jason:  It’s the Cubs game!  Isn’t that more important?  Can we at least watch it on a different TV?
Me:  I don’t think so, Tori and Dean Home Sweet Hollywood is taping upstairs and its part I of their season finale.  You might have to put the game on the computer.
Jason:  You know these people don’t care about your life, right?  I don’t know why you care so much about theirs.  You watch way too much TV!

The first step in overcoming an addiction is to admit you have one, right?  Well, I can do that.  I have an addiction.  There, I said it.  It’s not just to TV though, but more specifically, to reality TV.  And not the good kind of reality TV, if there is such a thing?  Apparently, the whole country watches American Idol or at least it seems they all vote for the new idol.  I’ve never even tuned in for an episode.  Same goes for shows like the Biggest Loser or Survivor or the Bachelor, never got into them.

I like a different type of reality TV.  I’m not sure how to classify my tastes…washed up celebrities with their own shows, rich people who like drama?  But my DVR is set to the following— every Real Housewives franchise, The Hills even without LC, the City, NYC Prep, Miami Social, Millionaire Matchmaker, Kendra, Tori and Dean Home Sweet Hollywood, Keeping up with the Kardashians, Say Yes to the Dress, Dancing with the Stars and the list goes on.

The addiction started out innocently enough (don’t they all) in college with Laguna Beach and The Hills.  My roommates would get together each week to cook dinner, have some drinks and watch our favorite girls from the OC.  We envied their lifestyles—they were at the beach everyday and at bars every night, while we were in class during the day and spent our nights studying at the library.  It might have been a reality show, but it was our escape from reality.

Now? Now I don’t know what to call it.

I consider myself to be a relatively intellectual person.  You all know I love to write and I love to read even more.  That’s why I joined a book club this year.  I have my boyfriend, my friends and my family all nearby to socialize with in my spare moments of free time and yet, I’m finding myself more and more in front of TV.  (To my credit, I do work out while I watch, that’s one of the biggest benefits of having a DVR you can watch commercial free at your own convenience, but the down fall is that you can tape EVERYTHING.)

I wish I could say the addiction ends with the TV.  But did you know that you can follow a lot of these “characters” in the blogosphere?  Each cast member of the Real Housewives franchise has her own blog; the stars of The Hills and Keeping up with the Kardashians are all on Twitter.  And any celebrity web site covers the lives of these pseudo celebs.  Two of my favorites, Bethaney Frankel from the Real Housewives of New York City and Lauren Conrad from The Hills both published books this year that made it the New York Times Best Seller List!  THE NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER LIST!  Isn’t that reserved for REAL authors?!  There’s even talk that one of these books will be adapted into a movie and the other into a new TV show.

So I must not be alone.  Reality stars are hot commodities.  I’ve never been a fan of Jon and Kate Plus 8, but it’s hard not to know who they are as they are everywhere these days.  I even saw them on CNN.  When did we become so obsessed with other people’s lives?

In a way, one could say that Oy!Chicago is even a product of this voyeurism.  The advent of the blogosphere has encouraged everyone with a computer to start sharing their lives with the world.

In recent weeks, Stef and I have been told by several of our coworkers that we should have our own reality show.  (We can be pretty entertaining when we are crazed trying to assign, edit and publish stories.)  And you know what?  It’s a good idea.  I bet you someone soon will make a show about a start-up blog, it’ll be like the Office, but reality.  I’d star.

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