Once again this great nation of ours lives up to its credo.
To some it may be of small consequence that14 year old Edon Pinchot won the hearts of Americans last Monday night as he sang a rendition of David Guetta's “Titanium” on the television show, “America’s Got Talent”. (See Edon’s performance below.) But I would disagree. It demonstrates something about America.
He not only got a standing ovation from the audience, he was showered with praise by the 3 judges who are not reticent to ridicule bad performances. Of the 12 contestants competing in these quarter-finals, only four are selected to go to the next level. The 3 judges predicted Edon to be one of those four. And they were right. Edon has moved on to the next level of competition.
What is unusual about Edon is that he is an Orthodox Jew. He is a recent graduate of Chicago’s Hillel Torah North Suburban Day School located in Skokie. I know his grandparents. His grandfather and I served together on the board of directors at HTC. They are a wonderful and committed Torah family.
What is even more unusual is that Edon wore a rather nice sized Kipa on his head. It took courage for this young boy to perform in front of a live audience knowing that millions of viewers were watching him on TV. But it took serious commitment to his Judaism to keep a Kipa on his head in a business known for vanity and conformity to the whims of popular culture. Had he removed his Kipa for this performance, it would have been understandable. But he chose to wear it proudly in public. He deserves a lot of credit for that.
Credit goes to the American people too for taking him into their hearts. Americans didn’t see a Kipa – even though it was very obviously upon his head. They saw a talented young boy singing his heart out. And they loved it.
I often say that anti Semitism in this country is practically nonexistent. Except for isolated pockets of extremism like the Neo Nazis, the KKK… or Palestinian influenced anti Zionism that occasionally morphs into the anti Semitism popping up in some universities - one would be hard pressed to see it on any real scale.
Among examples of our acceptance that I have pointed to are: Evangelical Christians, the Gore/Lieberman candidacy, and various news stories about how average Americans see their fellow Jewish citizens as equals and have defend them agains anti Semitic attacks. And now once again we have yet another cross section of Americans that have done the same.
This - despite all the bad behavior some of us are guilty of. I think John McCain was right. When asked by a reporter a few years ago about whether Jack Abramoff’s behavior would negatively color the views Americans had of the Jewish people, he answered that the American people are smart enough to know that one person does not represent the whole. I think that’s right. Makes me proud to be an American.
Happy Birthday America!