Monday, March 14, 2022

The Jews and The Irish

If It Wasn't For: The Jews and the Irish. The Irish and The Jews. Yes! One glorious day! For the first time in perhaps centuries, the twin drinking holidays of Purim and (lehavdil) St Patrick's Day will coincide completely this year.

They came close in 2014 - the twins at least showed up on the same weekend. But this Thursday is special. So here is (from 2017):

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The Irish and The Jews

The Irish writer Brendan Behan once remarked, “Others have a nationality. The Irish and the Jews have a psychosis.”

Rory Fitzgerald wrote in the Jerusalem Post in 2010 -
That may be putting matters a little harshly, but [Brendan Behan] was on to something: These two ancient peoples were destined to wander the world as outsiders, knowing suspicion and derision wherever they went. Through it all, both maintained tight and close bonds with their own kin, even in the farthest corners of the earth.
So here we are, getting ready for St Patrick's Day (March 17, as Abq Jew is not sure we in New Mexico all know) and the celebration of everything Irish. 

The shamrock - a young sprig of clover - is, as we all know, a symbol of Ireland.
Saint Patrick, Ireland's patron saint, is said to have used it as a metaphor for the Christian Holy Trinity. 
The name shamrock comes from Irish seamróg [ˈʃamˠɾˠoːɡ], which is the diminutive of the Irish word for clover (seamair) and means simply "little clover" or "young clover".
A metaphor for the Christian Holy Trinity.

How about us Jews? Don't we get a Holy Trinity, too?

Yes, we do!

We Jews have our own set of Trinities! There are, in fact, lots of threes in Judaism -
  • Noah had three sons: Ham, Shem and Japheth
  • The Three Patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac and Jacob
  • The prophet Balaam beat his donkey three times.
  • The prophet Jonah spent three days and nights in the belly of a large fish
  • Three divisions of the Written Torah: Torah (Five Book of Moses), Nevi'im (Prophets), Ketuvim (Writings)
  • Three divisions of the Jewish people: Kohen, Levite, Yisrael
  • Three daily prayers: Shacharit, Mincha, Maariv
  • Three Shabbat meals
  • Shabbat ends when three stars are visible in the night sky
  • Three Pilgrimage Festivals: Passover, Shavuot, Sukkot
  • Three matzos on the Passover Seder table
  • The Three Weeks, a period of mourning bridging the fast days of Seventeenth of Tammuz and Tisha B'Av
  • Three cardinal sins for which a Jew must die rather than transgress: idolatry, murder, sexual immorality
  • A Beth Din is composed of three members
Many more sets of threes appear in Pirkei Avot, a compilation of the ethical teachings and maxims of Mishnaic-period Rabbis.

The first verse of Pirkei Avot tells us
Moses received the Torah from Sinai and transmitted it to Joshua; Joshua to the elders; the elders to the prophets; and the prophets handed it down to the men of the Great Assembly. They said three things: 
Be deliberate in judgment, raise up many disciples, and make a fence around the Torah.
Plenty of the following verses also tell us "three things," But it is the second verse to which Abq Jew wishes to draw your attention.
Shimon the Righteous was one of the last survivors of the Great Assembly. He used to say: 
On three things the world is sustained: on the Torah, on worship, and on deeds of lovingkindness.
Here is how Abq Jew interprets Shimon HaTzaddik's three things.

Torah provides a framework for how to live in society.
In the Five Books of Moses, in the Talmud, and in the later Codes,
we see not only ritual laws - between Man and God -
but civil laws - between Man and Man.

Worship brings faith (and not the other way around).
Faith leads to stability, to confidence, and to hope -
that, together, we can build a world based upon justice.

Lovingkindness is absolutely necessary,
because justice alone is both too much and too little.
In a world of pure justice, who would live?

    Any one of these three things - Torah, worship, or lovingkindness - would not be enough. Indeed, any two of these things would not be enough. But these three things together enable us to build a sturdy structure for living in the world.

    And while we're talking about threes - remember, if you catch a leprechaun and set him free, the leprechaun will grant you three wishes!

    Which brings us back to the Irish and the Jews. Specifically - to William JeromeJean Schwartz, and Billy Murray. Look - another Trinity!

    This Trinity wrote (Jerome, Schwartz, in 1912) and performed (Murray) the classic tune If It Wasn't For the Irish and The Jews.
    William Jerome (William Jerome Flannery, September 30, 1865 – June 25, 1932) was an American songwriter, born in Cornwall-on-Hudson, New York of Irish immigrant parents, Mary Donnellan and Patrick Flannery. He collaborated with numerous well-known composers and performers of the era, but is best-remembered for his decade-long association with Jean Schwartz with whom he created many popular songs and musical shows in the 1900s and early 1910s.
    Jean Schwartz (November 4, 1878 – November 30, 1956) was a Hungarian-born American songwriter. Schwartz was born in Budapest, Hungary. His family moved to New York City when he was 13 years old. He took various music-related jobs including demonstrating and selling sheet music in department stores before being hired as a staff pianist and song-plugger by the Shapiro-Bernstein Publishing House of Tin Pan Alley. He published his first composition, a cakewalk, in 1899. He became known as an accomplished lyricist, although he also continued to write music. In 1901, he began a successful collaboration with William Jerome.
    William Thomas "Billy" Murray (May 25, 1877 – August 17, 1954) was one of the most popular singers in the United States in the early decades of the 20th century. While he received star billing in Vaudeville, he was best known for his prolific work in the recording studio, making records for almost every record label of the era. Billy Murray was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Patrick and Julia (Kelleher) Murray, immigrants from County Kerry, Ireland. 

    One immigrant and two immigrants' sons!
    Making good in America!

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