For the history of the Grandchildren of the Ghetto, which is mainly a history of the middle classes, is mainly a history of isolation. 'The Upper Ten' is a literal phrase in Judah, whose arisracy just about suffices for a synagogue quorum. Great majestic luminaries, each with its satellites, they swim serenely in the golden heavens. And the middle classes look up in worship, and the lower classes in supplication. 'The Upper Ten' have no spirit of exclusiveness; they are willing to entertain royalty, rank, and the arts with a catholic hospitality that is only Eastern in its magnificence, while some of them remain Jews only for fear of being considered snobs by society. But the middle-class Jew has been more jealous of his caste, and for caste reasons. To exchange hospitalities with the Christian when you cannot eat his dinners were to get the worst of the bargain; to invite his sons to your house when they cannot marry your daughters were to solicit awkward complications. In business, in civic affairs, in politics, the Jew has mixed freely with his fellow-citizens; but indiscriminate social relations only become possible through a religious decadence which they in turn accelerate. A Christian in a company of middle-class Jews is like a lion in a den of Daniels. They show him deference and their prophetic side.
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Mark Oxford dba Library of Alexandria
January 01, 2000
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