Home
In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review August 2, 2006 / 8 Menachem-Av, 5766

Gibson's toughest role

By Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein



Printer Friendly Version

Email this article


An open-letter to Mel — and Jewry


http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Mel Gibson's powerful and on-target apology to the Jewish community for his anti-Semitic tirade was infinitely better than his weak and unsatisfying first statement. It would be a mistake for the Jewish community to reciprocate with a let's-kiss-and-make-up response. Jewish tradition demands something more, and Mr. Gibson deserves something better.


Like Christians, Jews see repentance as a supremely important principle. There are key differences, however, in our understanding of how one achieves this goal. According to many Jewish thinkers over hundreds of years, at least four components are crucial. The first is verbal confession. Declaring one's guilt, slowly and deliberately, makes it just a bit harder — but not impossible — to continue the error with equanimity. This must be accompanied, however, by complete cessation of the offending behavior, as well as sincere regret for the misdeed. The fourth is perhaps the most difficult element: there has to be a game plan for the future, an acceptance of a way to change that is real, not self-delusional. As a play in four acts, Mr. Gibson gets favorable reviews for the first. Perhaps Jewish thought can help him with the other three.


If Mr. Gibson asked us, this is what we would tell him:


Anti-Semitism and prejudice are no less a problem than alcohol abuse. They should be dealt with similarly. You can't deal with an alcohol problem through a photo-op with the head of the local detox program. Twelve step programs — the programs that really work — require slow change, growing self-awareness, and lots of time. Not coincidentally, they require the privacy of secure surroundings, far from public scrutiny. We will help you understand your personal demons, but only away from the cameras and the mikes. Redemption will come through the small, still voice of conscience, not at a press conference.


We would first show you what you already seem to know — that words can hurt, and words can kill. Naveed Haq, who shot up the Jewish Community Center in Seattle a few days ago, believed that Jews have too much power, the same idea that you expressed at your arrest. More importantly, while you were telling the world how Jews are behind all world conflict, two million Israelis were sitting in bomb shelters, shielding themselves from thousands of missiles, each equipped with tiny ball-bearings meant to tear into human flesh. These came compliments of Iranian President Ahmadinejad and his Hezbollah proxy Nasrallah, both of whom have incited their masses to regard Jews as the source of all evil and described as the highest value martyrdom in the course of ridding the world of them.


Words uttered by powerful people can't be easily undone. A great Jewish rabbi once likened them to feathers from a torn pillow, scattered by the wind. There is just no way to stuff them all back in again.


That is not to say that we will spurn you. Far from it. We would point you in the direction of the next steps. We would look with empathy and support as you explored the reasons for your feelings. Frankly, growing up with the father you did, it would be difficult for some of his hatred of Jews not to rub off in some manner or form. In a word, what you need to do is confront every negative stereotype you own, and understand what is wrong with them. You need to study some Jewish history, and learn about who Jews are at the core. You need to explode the myth of Jewish power by learning about two thousand years of Jewish powerlessness. You need to hear the personal stories of Holocaust survivors, and then stand in silence — alone — at Auschwitz and contemplate the natural trajectory of hatred. You need to visit Israel, to understand the miracle of her existence, and why those who wish to destroy her will come after Christians next. You need to meet Jews who devoted their lives to making this a better world for all its citizens.


In Jewish thought, repentance is a gift from G-d. But G-d withholds that gift as long as the penitent has not done all that he or she could to undo the damage. Contrition, even heartfelt contrition, is insufficient if not coupled with action. (Christians call a casual approach to contrition "cheap grace.") When you thoroughly understand the groundlessness of anti-Semitism, you will actually be in a better position than most to start stuffing the feathers back into the pillow. Precisely because you are an accomplished film star, you can become a powerful example and articulate teaching force, teaching others why hating Jews is both unwarranted and potentially lethal.


This, too, is part of Jewish teaching about repentance. When you do it the right way, you wind up not just erasing past errors, but actually ahead of where you were before the crime. The unfortunate incident this week could become the impetus for great moral achievement. It is not an easy script to follow, and it cannot be read or rehearsed. It has to be written from scratch by no one but yourself. It may be the most important role you have ever played.


We are not prepared to squander such an opportunity. We appreciate your apology, and wait to see it turned into a fuller repentance. We will cheer you on — but only from the sidelines. If and when you get there, you can be certain that we will welcome you. You will not find a better fan club than the Jewish community warming up to a foe turned friend. We will be watching hopefully for your next steps. If you take them, we will not let you down.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in Washington and in the media consider "must reading." Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein is the Director of Interfaith Affairs for the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles. Comment by clicking here.



© 2006, Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein