Pertinent and Impertinent

If a daughter is ashamed of her parents, if because of this shame she belittles them to the outside world, she is not improving her own position. People tend to associate us with those nearest to us, and by aiding them in criticizing her parents she is not only cheapening the latter, but herself as well. By discussing her shame, she merely makes every one else doubly conscious of it, and if people have no respect for the parents they can have very little for the child. In condemning, or even apologizing for the faults of others, she emphasizes them more sharply.

This is of course no new or startling discovery. Most people have realized and acknowledged this since they have been able to reason. They do not, it seems, carry this reasoning far enough. What is true of a family is also true of a race. What we feel about our own people is what the world at large will think of us. This is probably more applicable to the Jewish race than to any other. Our own sense of shame condemns us long before the world has a chance to.

We are an old race and as closely bound by tradition and blood relationship as any family, yet we are constantly ashamed of and ceaselessly criticizing those members who have, unfortunately, had fewer opportunities than some others have had. It seems to me that this attitude is not merely a snobbish one, but a very disloyal one. It is not merely disloyal to the members, but to the race at large. In so large a family it is natural that there may be some of whose conduct we do not approve. We may critize and censor them as people, but not as Jews, If, although they embarrass us, we make an effort to understand them before we disapprove of them, they may make us proud instead of ashamed of the fact that we are Jews.

The more we call people’s attention to the faults of our friends, the quicker people will be to see faults in them, in us, and finally in the whole race. A teacher of mine once told me that there must be some justification for the prejudice against us, as in all her experience she had never met a group more strongly prejudiced against the Jews than the Jews themselves.

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