… which, I suppose, does not bother him all that much.

In fact, Jack Wertheimer prides himself on being (for lack of a better word) a Previous Jew, a hanger-on to an order which is giving way to a new one. Wertheimer’s latest, “The Ten Commandments of America’s Jews“, oozes with snide, crotchety condemnation of Next Judaism, of its tenets, practices and ways of thinking about Jewishness and where Jews fit in the world.  I could, commandment by commandment, fisk his “get off my lawn, ya darn kids” moment.  (H/T to Dan Sieradski for the image of a young Dan/Dennis the Menace sitting on Mr. Wilson/Wertheimer’s stomach…)

And I was encouraged to respond to Wertheimer point by point… But why bother?   (And besides, there are folks with much more patience than I who offered critiques that actually regarded Wertheimer’s comments with a modicum of seriousness.  Here’s one from Kol Ra’ash Gadol.)

So back to “getting off the lawn”… Those familiar with Dennis the Menace know that young Dennis does not purposely try to irritate Mr. Wilson (the ideal shouter of the phrase, although he probably did not in the course of almost 60 years of comic strips).  Dennis is a precocious young fellow, brimming with energy and an untameable cowlick.  Mr. Wilson, on the other hand, is a cantankerous kvetch who champions a world order which is quiet, routinized and organized, one amenable to stamp collecting and gardening.  Dennis is well-mannered and congenial to Mr. Wilson.  Mr. Wilson is anything but well-mannered or congenial to the young boy.  It is clear that no matter what Dennis does, it will rile Mr. Wilson.  It is also clear that the more vehement Mr. Wilson gets, the more feckless he proves to be. Dennis will carry the day.  He always does because Mr. Wilson had his day.

And this, ladies and gentlemen, is what Jack Wertheimer has become now with this latest piece – a feckless crank.

Mind you, I like cranks.  In fact, I adore Statler and Waldorf.  (Some of their best, crankiest work can be found here.)  But where Wertheimer diverges from Statler & Waldorf is that the latter are funny, while the former is just ridiculous.

I am sure I will get many comments disagreeing with me on this point.  They will say: Only now?  Wertheimer tipped into crotchety irrelevance six months ago!  Or… Seen in a specific kind of light, Wertheimer can actually be quite funny.

"I'll give you my tribal, retrograde Judaism when you pry it from my cold, dead hands!"

One can almost hear the sound of both of Wertheimer’s hands gripping in white-knuckled mania onto a Judaism and Jewish community that is changing before his eyes by (Next) Jews who love Judaism almost as much as he.   (Although, as Jeff Eyges pointed out in a comment to Dan’s FB post, Wertheimer’s Judaism [=Conservative Judaism] is as dismissed as the Judaism he sniffs at by folks gripping even tighter to the reins – the Ultra-Orthodox)   … Which begs the biggest question of all: How did he manage to peck out this dreck while both hands were gripping the reins so fiercely?

I will leave this question to be answered by minds greater than mine.

Shabbat shalom, Shavuot Sameakh… and save me a blintz!

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