Thursday, June 19, 2008
A Modern American Assimilated Jew Making the Ultimate Choice
I work full-time as a Law Clerk in a Law Firm while I attend law school at night. The other day, the partner in my firm told me a story that illustrated a recent example of how even a modern Jew in America can be given the choice to deny his Judaism in order to safeguard his life and health.
The partner told me the story of his friend, who is a partner in a major Manhattan law firm. This man originally was born as an Egyptian Jews. He was not observant and moved to the United States. Here, he became a successful lawyer, but thanks to his upbringing and schooling in Egypt, he spoke fluent Arabic and French. Partly due to this fact, and due to the fact that he was just a very good lawyer, he got a Saudi princess who controled hundreds of millions of dollars as a client for all sorts of business arrangements. He also got many of her Arab associates as clients for various deals and his Arabic and French lanuage skills held him in good stead. He was always very careful never to give any hint that he was Jewish.
One one occassion (before Saudi Arabia had to say they would let Jews into the country in February 2004) his client invited him to Saudi Arabia for a meeting in relation to a major deal. With all of the millions in legal work he had done for her, he could not refuse, as uncomfortable as he felt, not knowing what would happen to him if it was discovered that he was really Jewish. He went on the trip, which was at the very end of the calendar year.
On the afternoon of December 24th, the princess asked him which church (probably in a private home) that he would need directions to? Now, if he said that he just doesn't go to church or if he just accepted the directions and them just didn't go to the church, it would look like he was affirming that he was a Xian. So, despite the fact that he found himself in a hostile country with a barbaric Shariah based legal system, he turned to her and said, "There is something that I have to tell you that I haven't mentioned before..."
At that point, I think he deserves all of the credit for disregarding whatever potential harm he might have faced for being a Jew in Saudi Arabia who's not on an American Army base. However, the story doesn't end there.
Before he gets to tell her that he's Jewish, she says "Don't worry you don't have to tell me. I already know. I've always known."
Flabergasted, he asks "What? Then why have you and all of your Arab colleagues accepted the services of a Jewish lawyer all of this time?!"
She just answerd "We know what we want..."
I guess even Saudi Princesses and Arabic businessmen know that Jewish lawyers are the way to go!
I usually don't think of the possiblity of having to make the choice between affimatively denying my Jewishness as a practical problem these days. But it is nice to see that the nekuda tova in that Jew would not let him even impliedly deny his Jewishness, even to save himself from potential danger. Wow.
(Picture courtesy of familycourtchronicles)
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