Honorable Mensch-ion

Where Did You Come From?

This morning I met David Bluthenthal, one of the most well known basketball players in Israeli history, for Maccabi Tel Aviv. What is most fascinating about David is where he came from. David grew up in Marina del Rey. His mother was white and his father was black. His great-grandfather was the son of a white sharecropper in the deep south, and he took on his father’s name, Bluthenthal. Growing up, David was in between many worlds. In Jewish circles, he felt black, and in black circles, he felt Jewish.

When the Torah mentions Rebecca, she is called, “The daughter of Betuel the Aramean, the sister of Lavan the Aramean.” The Rabbis ask, “Why is it necessary to emphasize the fact that Rebecca had such poor lineage? The Kli Yakar teaches that any child of a certain parent can be called he parent’s son, not all can be said to have the nature of their parent.

David Bluthenthal is going to Israel next week. He said when he walks down the street, he is treated like a celebrity. Imagine if that sharecropper over 100 years ago only knew that his illegitimate child would become a hero in the Jewish State of Israel. We may know where we come from, but do we know where we want to go?

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