Judaism and a Multicultural Society
Vol 7 1988
As a Jewish American who has come “north of the border” to serve the Jewish community of Kitchener/Waterloo and Cambridge I must comment on both the ‘melting pot’ theory and the ‘multicultural society’ theory. In the melting pot it is normal to observe the vast majority of people assimilate, forming a single entity. In the multicultural society the assumption is that people will maintain their own culture within a larger framework.
My name is Nathan W Langer and I am the Rabbi at the Beth Jacob Congregation in Kitchener. I was born in Oyster Bay, Long Island, New York. I am the son of a Holocaust survivor of the Nazi tyranny that engulfed Europe. My ancestry lends itself to be attuning to the issues of hatred and bigotry. I have personally suffered at the hands of prejudice. A melting pot assumes that everyone becoming part of one large unit will erase prejudice. Each person will maintain a small part of their culture, and will be ‘melted’ into the larger society.
If their culture does not ‘fit in’ there could be repercussions.
While there are many assorted problems with the melting pot, such as, loss of connection to the past culture, religious practice persecution, or difficulty integrating because one is ‘different’, there are still some positives. The major advantage being that one has to work at maintaining their cultural identity, and work make something worthwhile. The melting pot also causes people of different cultures, faiths and backgrounds to come together for a common goal.
The multicultural society often isolates us from one another serving as an insulation from learning to understand and live together, however, it also provides a way for a culture to self perpetuate. It is now time, as so many times before, to look toward different cultures as a way of bringing people together and bridging the gaps of humanity.
Judaism is by no means evangelical, with the exception of to other Jews. The best way to be multiculturally responsible is to respect one another and defend the rights of one another. This requires understanding but most of all, desire. There was once a person who was driven by the idea that people of the world who were most successful had a secret; this person spent an entire lifetime studying successful people. He learned about philosophy, salesmanship, and religious beliefs. The conclusion this person reached was that there were only two words that caused success, and those were: “I WILL”. If we are to be a multicultural society in Kitchener, we must listen to one another and say, “I will.” “I will” be there to battle bigotry and hatred.
“I will” be there to fight for truth in history, and “I will” be there to maintain a peaceful and cooperative coexistence