Attitudes of Gratitude and Ingratitude in a Dark Time

November 17th, 2023 11:24 AM

We have again entered the season of gratitude. You remember gratitude, don’t you? It was what we expressed before we became entitled.

Last Saturday was the observance of Veterans Day, during which many thanked those who served in the military and have protected our freedoms. Next week is Thanksgiving when some people will thank God for the many blessings He has bestowed on America, despite our rebellion against His commands. Even given the culture rot and political turmoil we are experiencing, there is still much for which to be thankful. Then comes Christmas when gratitude to God for His ultimate Gift seems to be increasingly diminished by the secular.

The height (or depth) of ingratitude is being exposed in large demonstrations across the world. As the anti-Israel and anti-Jewish protesters say vulgar things about the Jewish people and call for the elimination of the democratic Jewish state, they might benefit from having the contributions of Jews explained to them. Those contributions have contributed to a better society and world.

It was the Jews who gave us the Talmud, or Old Testament, which is full of information about God and wisdom for how we can live successful lives. A Jew – Jesus of Nazareth – is introduced in what Christians call the New Testament and lays out His plan for the salvation of all who believe in Him.

Given their small percentage of the population, Jews have excelled in many fields for which everyone should be grateful. A short list can’t cover them all.

There was physicist Albert Einstein, Jonas Salk (creator of the first polio vaccine), Albert Sabin (oral polio vaccine), Galileo (discovered the speed of light, among other things), Selman Waksman (Streptomycin and coined the word antibiotic), Gabriel Lipmann (discovered color photography), Baruch Blumberg (discovered the origin and spread of infectious diseases), G. Edelman (discovered chemical structure of antibodies), Briton Epstein (identified the first cancer virus), Maria Meyer (structure of atomic nuclei), Julius Mayer (discovered law of thermodynamics), Sigmund Freud (father of psychotherapy), Benjamin Disraeli (British prime minister), Isaac Singer (inventor of the sewing machine), Levi Strauss (largest maker of denim jeans), Joseph Pulitzer (established the famous prize that honors journalists, literature, music and art), Ben Hecht (journalist, playwright, novelist).

Broadway would be dark and musical theater dead without the contributions of Jews. These included George and Ira Gershwin, Oscar Hammerstein, Richard Rodgers, Lorenz Hart, Kurt Weill, Irving Berlin, Leonard Bernstein, Betty Comden and Adolph Green, Jule Styne, Neil Simon, Stephen Sondheim, Marvin Hamlisch, Cy Coleman, John Kander and Fred Ebb ( CabaretChicago ), and perhaps some lesser known talents like Charles Strouse ( Bye Bye BirdieAnnie ) and Stephen Schwartz ( GodspellWicked ) and the prolific Cole Porter.

Jewish artists created beauty, sometimes out of tragedy. These include Marc Chagall, whose work hangs in the Israeli Knesset. There are many other Jewish painters and sculptors.

If you enjoy weekends, credit the Jews (see Exodus 20:8 ). Other contributions made by Jews to society and culture include the census, animal rights, asylum, equality under the law, our courts, crop rotation, monetary damages, and public schools, though they might not take credit for them today given their declining quality and growing antisemitism.

A few demonstrators calling for “free Palestine” and “from the river to the sea,” have been interviewed and have demonstrated little to no knowledge about the history of Judaism or the establishment of the Jewish state. Ignorance allows dictators and terrorists to pursue their objectives, while a properly informed public preserves and protects what is important to a free and civilized society.

If you believe such things are important, offer some gratitude, not hostility, to the Jews.