June 19, 2024
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June 19, 2024
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Do We All Scream for Ice Cream?

For now, at least, there will be no Chunky Monkey or The Tonight Dough ice cream at the Morrison home.

Ben & Jerry’s is out of the freezer.

One can live without ice cream. But perhaps the varied responses among our people to the maker of Cherry Garcia’s distasteful scoop of political incorrectness underlies a deeper discord.

Like ice cream flavors, diversity of views at their best can foster appreciation and respect for other tastes.

At their worst—and things are pretty bad right now—they foment distinct fabrics that reject the material of another. Each day, the tents that the pagan prophet Bilam prophesied as our strength, grows narrower and flimsier, the space accorded inside becomes increasingly restricted.

I’m involved in several Jewish groups, from Orthodox to transdenominational to non-denominational, that aim to foster greater understanding—even if with ultimate disagreement—and to take us out of our echo chambers of me-too thought and cast us into rooms of discomfort.

Lots of Jews sadly embrace BDS and consider Israel no better—and possibly worse—than Hamas and other terroristic groups that care little for the sanctity of human life.

We can castigate them and dismiss their views as bile. But they are us. And it’s important we engage them not from the pedestal of moral superiority but from seeking to understand, and hopefully to achieve a reciprocal consideration of our views.

America is increasingly hyphenated and tribalized. Everyone, it seems, has a grievance. Even banal terms like picnic are being cast aside at some college campuses as a nod to the Southern festive gatherings pathetically associated with lynchings of African-Americans.

This summer has been hot. Really hot. And we Jews have not been unaffected.

On the day Ben & Jerry’s announced it would halt selling ice cream in the “Occupied Palestinian Territory” (while sycophantically assuring it will continue to sell ice cream in “Israel”) my Facebook and inbox overflowed with a lava of Israel’s supporters vowing boycotts and denouncements. At the same time, a trickle of pro-BDSers approved Ben & Jerry’s “principled” position and moral conscience, implicitly viewing Israel as morally more deficient and an occupier of other people.

Instead of crying over spilled milk—and cream and sugar and chocolate chips—we need an answer. An answer to our Jewish disunity, metaphorically underwritten by Ben & Jerry’s disjointed action.

I believe the seeds of a solution are rooted in the fourth book of our Written Torah—the book and opening chapters of Bamidbar.

There, Moshe is directed to conduct a census of adult males of each tribe. Once completed, the tribes are divided into quadrants. And from there to a single people.

Said differently, each group has its tribal flag—the hyphenated Jew (Orthodox, Conservative, Reform etc.), a regional identity and, most importantly, a national flag—The Jewish People.

Noted runner and author Don Kardong shared, “Without ice cream, there would be darkness and chaos.”

When the melt of Ben & Jerry’s fiasco dries, my hope is we will recognize that what unifies us all is our love for ice cream.

Mitch Morrison is a journalist and active in several Jewish organizations. He may be reached at [email protected] and his favorite ice cream is Haagen-Dazs chocolate chocolate chip.

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