May 21, 2024
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May 21, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

The United States is a truly wonderful country and anyone living in it should consider themselves lucky. Although the U.S. is not a Jewish country, many Jews are among its citizens and, demographically speaking, certain areas of the United States have more Jewish residents than others. Obviously, the Tri-State area is crawling with kippot, kreplach and kneidlach. California has a ton of tallis-wearing Tevyahs. Florida, Illinois and Massachusetts, among other states, have mounds of matza-eating mensches and Manischewits-drinking meshuganas.

That said, across this great country, “from the mountains, to the prairies, to the oceans white with foam,” there are plenty of pockets lacking a significant Jewish presence, e.g., places where kosher food of any sort is extremely hard to find. So, the question is: if one so desired, then—hypothetically speaking—how would one make America more Jewish?

As a preliminary matter, one absolutely should not change any existing components of America in order to make them more Jewish. That would be inappropriate and, frankly, chutzpahdik, especially when you consider how great this country has been to the Jewish People. That means absolutely no attempts should be made to rename any cities or towns to give them a more Jewish twist. Of course, some cities in this great land already sound Jewish (or at least biblical) just the way they are, like (i) Canaan, Indiana, (ii) Goshen, New York, (iii) Jerusalem, Ohio, (iv) Hebron, Wisconsin, (v) Jericho, Arkansas and (vi) Utah’s Zion National Park.

Even though no aspects of American culture should be removed or altered to make them more Jewish, if one wanted to, one could possibly find creative ways to tactfully and inconspicuously add items to the American landscape to very subtly make them slightly (and inoffensively) more Jewish. For example, if a group so desired, they could travel to the Mid-West, where in the mighty city of St. Louis stands the massive and iconic archway known as the “Gateway to the West.” Under Jewish law, all doors and gateways are supposed to be adorned with a mezuzah. So, a group could lawfully petition for the addition of a smaller “Gateway to the West” replica that comes with an appropriately-sized and publicly-approved mezuzah. Doing so likely would be an extraordinary feat of engineering and ingenuity as would whatever additional device was created to allow folks to lift up to kiss the mezuzah.

In Keystone, South Dakota stands the mountainous masterpiece that is Mount Rushmore, featuring the faces of four of this country’s greatest leaders: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt. It would be highly unpatriotic and possibly even treasonous to suggest any changes to Mount Rushmore. For that reason, if someone wanted to add a Jewish element, one might consider a separate, smaller and appropriately-located replica of Mount Rushmore featuring four faces that are important to Jewish Americans. Of course, halachic restrictions concerning idolatry and other related issues might prohibit actual faces or busts. So, instead, the Jewish Mount Rushmore would feature four moving symbols like a Magen David, a bagel, the Kotel and kichel.

New York features the Statute of Liberty, a universal symbol of freedom and hope. Nothing could or should ever replace or compete with it. So, if a group wanted to, they could find a discrete and appropriate location to erect a smaller version of the Statute of Liberty wherein Lady Liberty’s neighbor, Leah Liberty, is holding a siddur and a Havdalah candle.

In Arizona sits one of the natural wonders of the world, The Grand Canyon. It is an enormous abyss, one that plays tricks on the eyes, makes the stiffest knees wobble and leaves observers in pure wonderment. It would be impossible for Jews or anyone else to match the grandeur and splendor of the Grand Canyon. A Grand Minyan, however, might be doable. Imagine if all of the Jews in this fine land descended into the Grand Canyon and joined together in a powerful prayer service for the ages. Yes, the kiddush would feature water, trail mix and salty snacks for the return climb back to the top.

Other hypothetical ideas to create Jewish versions of famous sights in America might include:

  1. 1. Yosef-mite National Park: Located in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains, it would require all hikers to wear proper footwear, hats and technicolor dream-coats.
  2. 2. Empire Chicken State Building: Located in New York, the building would have many wings, so to speak.
  3. 3. Golden Gate Bridge Tournament: Located in San Francisco, it would feature round-the-clock table games including bridge, mahjong and canasta.

Final thought: Please do not even think about changing the first line of the Star Spangled banner to this: “Oy, say can you see, by the dawn’s early light… which means I need to recite… the Kriyat Shema.”

By Jon Kranz

 

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