Sunday, February 11, 2007

A Crossed Line

I do a lot of networking. Not the kind with wires and computer (although I do that too), but the kind with people. I go to several networking events regularly, and run a "chapter" of one group once a week. On occasion, I go to visit other group meetings within the same organization - it's a good way to meet new people and see how other folks run their meetings. Several weeks ago, I made such a visit. It was a good meeting, and I came away with a few people with whom I wanted to have further contact with.

I met one of them in his office. Nice guy. Seemed very interested in talking to me. When we sat down in his conference room, he made sure to mention that he had a bar-mitzvah. Now I go to my business meetings and such with my kippah on, so I'm used to people saying things like that to me. They want to make sure you know they're Jewish, so they'll say things like, "... and I said, 'Oy gevalt!'" or something like that. I figure that it's nice that they're trying to connect with me, so I kind of nod and smile, and continue on to the business at hand.

So this guy is obviously not frum, so I was a little surprised when he said, "You know, I have a book I'd really like you to read. It really helps deepen our understanding of Torah." Now, I know quite a few people who would have things to say that could deepen my understanding of Torah, but this guy wasn't one of them. It made me very suspicious, and my first thought was, Jews for Jesus. Nonetheless, I said something non-committal and continued with the meeting. By the end of the meeting, he hadn't really said anything else like that, and he hadn't handed me any books, so I figured it was over.

Three weeks passed by before the package showed up in my mailbox. Sure enough, it was a book essentially trying to reconcile Christianity with Judaism, and trying to prosyletize me. The book's called Betrayed, and it's about this one particular guy's struggle with his daughter's decision to become a "Jewish Christian." PS - in the end, he and his whole family wind up converting to Christianity. Nebach.

Now from a religious perspective, I'm not worried. See, Christianity is something of a hobby of mine - I don't practice it; I just find it fascinating that so many people believe in it. Anyway, I have no doubt that I've spent far more time studying Christianity than he has studying authentic Judaism, and am not worried that he's going to "get" me.

But I'm offended by his behavior. I met with him in good-faith, to discuss business. This is sort of a violation of generally unwritten groundrules. It's chutzpah. (I guess I gotta admire his "brass," though.)

Oh, he also included a note suggesting that we could go out for lunch, on him, if I read the book and had any questions.

Two weeks later, he called me to make sure I got the book. I wasn't ready to speak to him about this. Frankly, I was still mad. After speaking with him for about 15 mins... well, mostly I was trying to get a word in edgewise, I've come away unsure about his real intentions. He told me that he really didn't have any Jewish background growing up - which I'd figured - and that he really didn't find anything "spiritual" until he was introduced to Christianity. I told him that it was sad that he felt he had to go out there to find what was truly available (and in the original yet) in here. He said that if I sent him some information, he'd be glad to read it.

Now I'm not sure if he means he'd be willing to give his own heritage a real chance, or if he's after something else, and I'm not sure what to send him. I don't want to send him something combative, like You Take Jesus, I'll Take God, because it attacks his beliefs. That's not the way to convince anyone.

Have you had an experience like this? What did you do? Any suggestions on materials to send, if any?

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Chirac Reveals French Opinion

From the NY Times:

PARIS, Jan. 31 — President Jacques
said this week that if Iran had one or two nuclear weapons, it would not pose a big danger, and that if Iran were to launch a nuclear weapon against a country like Israel, it would lead to the immediate destruction of Tehran.
He went on to try to call journalists back in, to retract his statement, saying, “I should rather have paid attention to what I was saying and understood that perhaps I was on the record.” In other words, "That is what I truly believe, but I didn't want to go on record as having said it."

So there you have it, folks. In case there was still any doubt as to what France thinks of Israel, you are hereby on notice: The French don't consider it a big deal if Israel is destroyed by nuclear weapons.

Not that this is a surprise...