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Sunday, December 16, 2018

שאָנדאַ פֿאַר די גאַנצע וועלט


Kilogram weight under double bell jars
K20 America's Kilogram prototype came to us in 1890 and will retire in 2019


This year the world will leave behind the last of the artifact defined units of measurement, the Kilogram, in favor of using a universal constant and thereby a more stable and less arbitrary definition.

 The French decided in the zeal of the scientific age to try and get away from arbitrary measurements such as what we now call imperial measurements and instead to reference nature.
 No longer would a king decide how long a cubit was going to be only to have several other kings denoting similar lengths for the same term, at the same time!

 As you're reading this in English, you're probably aware that along with some odd rules of grammar we also held onto to the English system (imperial) of measurement in America for regular usage. The US Standard Foot is 0.3048 meters exactly by international agreement, so it's really a locally defined SI unit that we Americans choose to pretend isn't! 

 So how do you measure a Jew?  A sermon was delivered in my shul this Friday calling out the ugliness of of a pair of Orthodox men in Jerusalem. They threatened the life of the leader of the Conservative Movement in Israel via an attempt at religiously sanctioned murder. 
 Yizhar Hess had his life threatened and even the papers can't manage to cover the story without bias. It wasn't reported that he was Dr. Hess a Phd, or decorated IDF veteran. It was reported that he was heckled by a group of religious men, as though the head of the Conservative movement, coming to the western wall to support the Woman of the Wall is something else.
 I think this is the heart of the issue.

 Sinat Chinam, is this not groundless hatred?  And at the literal foundation of all that remains of a temple that was said to have been destroyed over just such a thing!



 Some twenty years ago as an American traveling it was a thing to sew a Canadian flag on your backpack. As North Americans we are indistinguishable but Canada did not represent the global policies of madmen world wide, and that could keep you safe, literally, and safe from having to defend policies you neither endorsed or espoused as an individual American.
 Has that happened? Does the rest of the world see the star of David apart from the standard of the nation of Israel? Should we as Jews? 

 When does it become a national embarrassment?  Israel is already a source of embarrassment to many in the diaspora over its national policies. Birthright has seen a marked decrease in groups of young American Jews wanting to take them up on a free tour to Israel. Are young American Jews saying no thank you, because they are embarrassed of Israel?

 What happens when Jews in the diaspora can't tell the difference between Israel's politics and Israelis?

 What happens when the Israeli right makes being Jewish an embarrassment?


What happens when we go from a shanda fur die goyim to a shanda fur die ganze velt? 

 When do we get to retire the Orthodox as our yardstick? When do we recognize the SI unit of Jewishness as something universal in us all and stop relying on an artifact of the past we've tried and tried to maintain but realize isn't constant?

When do we stop using local definitions to pretend we're something other?





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