As Jews, we inherit a long legacy of resisting the urge to conform. From Abraham to Einstein, Moses to Yitzhak Rabin, we have a rich lineage of daring to be different. The urge to conform is strong, we all need to resist it. As the golden age of the Jewish Diaspora appears to be over, attempting to conform has not saved us. As we see friends, organizations and elected officials turn against the Jewish community and watch antisemitism skyrocket throughout every country with a Jewish population, where does that leave us?
We just experienced it firsthand in Minneapolis when the City Council made a resolution filled with hate towards Jews, littered with lies and distortions, its number one priority of the session.
It is tempting to agree with aspects of what those who hate us are saying because they claim it’s about human rights, social justice, and standing for humanity. On principle, we agree with those things., But their words and actions don’t align with what those things actually mean, because those values that so many, like the Minneapolis City Council claim to have, do not include us. Meaning they aren’t values at all, just weapons to wield trying to get Jews to sacrifice parts of who we are to conform and to justify their prejudice.
Do not sacrifice any aspect of your identity or pride in your heritage with the hope of acceptance. We, as Jews, inherit a legacy of challenging the prevailing consensus. We know that the majority is not always right and conventional wisdom is not always wise.
This is illustrated ever so clearly by an experiment conducted by Solomon Asch. He assembled a group of people, asking them to perform a series of simple cognitive tasks. They were shown two cards, one with a line on it, the other with three lines of different lengths, and asked which was the same size as the line on the first. Unbeknown to one participant, all the others had been briefed by Asch to give the correct answer for the first few cards, and then to answer incorrectly for most of the rest. On a significant number of occasions the experimental subject gave an answer he could see was wrong, because everyone else had done so. Such is the power of the pressure to conform: it can lead us to say what we know is untrue.
This is what is happening across the world, including right here in Minnesota. Despite the overwhelming evidence of the atrocities committed by Hamas, people are blaming Jews by calling it resistance or even saying Israel perpetrated the acts to blame Hamas and justify this war.
Solomon Asch found something else interesting in his experiment. If just one other person was willing to speak up and support the person who could see that others were giving the wrong answer, it gave them the strength to stand up against the consensus.
Take solace in our community, lean on each other to stand up and say what is right and true.
Dead fish go with the flow, live fish swim against the current.
Am Yisrael Chai