Michael has been an educator for over 20 years. He was a founding member of the Torat Tzion Kollel movement in Cleveland, Ohio, where he and his wife Dara taught in and helped create the curriculum of the Fuchs Mizrachi School. Michael was the lead educator for ICNext, a training program for the broader Jewish Community in Cleveland. He was also a creative consultant the the Cleveland Playhouse. Michael studied philosophy in and received smicha from YU. Michael and Dara have five children and live in Efrat.
It’s hard for a Jew who grew up in Brooklyn to admit, but sometimes, it isn’t worth arguing. It really does depend on the circumstance. Case in point: tour guides. Sure, I overhear lots of them walking around Jerusalem. And they often make odd mistakes or misrepresentations. While putting in my own two cents is tempting, there is little point. They’ll probably be defensive, and convince the tourists that you are a dufus once you walk away. Hence my strict “no arguing with tour guides” policy.
I just broke it.
“Well you know,” he said, “according to Israeli law, any Jew who comes here can automatically become a citizen. It's a pretty racist law, I know. But it isn’t totally racist, because you can convert to Judaism. But it is mostly racist.”
I really tried to stay out of it. But it turns out that they were walking the same way as me and it kept going for, like, three minutes. That may sound brief, but it felt like hours of torture.
“Hi! Would you mind if I made a couple of observations?”, I interjected in as friendly and polite a manner as I could pull off.
“Sure”, he said. He was polite too, but I got the feeling that he recognized a familiar occupational hazard. His eyes only rolled in his mind.
“If the Law of Return was based on religious orientation, it would be racist. But since it's based on nationality, it’s perfectly normal,” I calmly explained.
“Well, yes, I suppose that’s part of it,” he conceded. “But it's also based on religion.”
To prove him wrong, I made the following points:
“Ok,” he said, “thanks so much! More power to you!”
After I left, I wondered if he explained to his group that I was a dufus. I hope not.