July 10, 2018, Israel
A child was born.
I received notice that the wife of a cousin gave birth. This child has no name yet, he will receive his name at his circumcision, as is our tradition. What we know is his family name is Katz.
I contacted his grandfather, my cousin, to offer my congratulations and after doing so something hit me.
I have been studying gang warfare and violence lately. It centers around youth who feel they deserve something, they want a piece of the pie, they want part of the American dream, or the European wealth, the good life. When asked to justify their criminal behavior the reply is simple; someone had something that I did not have, I wanted it, so I killed him.
People have been killed for nothing more than the jacket they were wearing, and the soulless killers walk away as if it were business as usual. And one wonders what kind of a human race this is.
A child is born and I offer the traditional Jewish blessings. At the circumcision when the boy enters the Jewish community he is blessed with, "May this child grow up for a life of Torah, Hupa (marriage canopy) and Good Deeds".
Torah is the Bible, the law of Moses, we wish this child to be a good Jew, one who lives by the ancient laws and moral codes of our people, a people that has brought so much good to the world, laws of decency, ethics and true values.
We wish him Hupa, marriage; a wife, children, a family, to be part of a community, to help build a good decent community where people help each other, where all are welcome, and all can walk in peace.
We wish him Good Deeds, a life devoted to helping others.
And I think of my great uncle and aunt, Seymour and Rose Katz of blessed memory, a couple that embodied all these virtues. My late aunt and uncle devoted themselves to good causes, justice and peace. They traveled to the USSR to fight for Jewish rights, for religious freedom. They donated huge sums of money to causes to help young people study. My Uncle Seymour was inspired by his late older brother, my grandfather, Moe Katz.
But perhaps that is what rich people do? The rich give to the poor. But my uncle was not born with money. His father (my great grandfather Max Katz of blessed memory) was an immigrant, a tailor. They grew up poor, they struggled hard. My uncle made money and then lost it all and then started all over again. He worked hard in a newspaper, no one gave him anything. He worked hard, he struggled, and he succeeded.
And when he "made it", he gave it. He gave away money to the needy, to worthy causes, to institutions of learning.
And after I offered my blessings to the child, the new born Katz baby, it hit me; what I am wishing for this child is a life devoted to Giving, not Taking. A life devoted to service not entitlement, a life where he will hopefully live up to the standards set by his family. It is a lot to expect.
When a community is based on giving, it is a place everyone wants to live in, everyone wants to contribute. When it is a community based on taking, everyone who can get away will, they will escape the "hood" as soon as they can.
A child is born, and our wishes are for him to live a life where he gives to others, where he lives by high moral standards and lives up to the standards set by his family, we wish him a life devoted to good causes and the betterment of mankind.
כִּֽי־אָמַ֗רְתִּי ע֭וֹלָם חֶ֣סֶד יִבָּנֶ֑ה
תהלים פט ג
For I have said a world of Kindness shall be built (Psalms chapter 89, verse 3)