Exclusion & Elimination

Dr. Ursula A. Falk

Commentary by Dr. Ursula A. Falk




In a previous essay I discussed the Hina Ma Tov Umanayim Shevet Achim Gam Yachad concept  - how good and beautiful it is when brothers hold hands.  Unfortunately too often the opposite occurs – divisiveness, back biting, anger, hatred and the ultimate elimination.  Whether it is in a work setting, in a family, a school or even in the synagogue, exclusion is a very painful process for the victim.  It occurs at both a conscious and unconscious level.  Marginalization is used.  The person is ostracized and treated with contempt.  He/she feels like a non- person, someone to be loathed, to be shunned to be ignored.

Elimination is the ultimate goal of the perpetrator(s) of  this social crime.  (Ex  in Latin means  “out of”; “limen” means threshold.)  It evokes the metaphor of a house where one of those who lives is severed from the rest of the family or group in that home and is literally kicked out or shoved out the door into the street.

To quote the sociologist Kenneth Westhues:  In physiology  elimination refers to the expulsion from the body of noxious waste.  Matter, if retained, would cause disease and death.  As a bodily function, elimination is the process of pushing beyond the organism’s threshold a residue from which all that is good has already been extracted.  In a social sense it means treating a human being like manure -  separated or ostracized from the group or from others.

We see and or read about  lethal exclusion almost daily by such examples as occurred in the Oklahoma killings, the McDonald's Restaurant shootings by James Huberty in 1984, and the more recent murders committed by Eric Rudolph.  Looking at these perpetrators, we find folk who were angry, lonely, felt abandoned, different and compulsively felt they needed to get even with an unjust cruel world.  Timothy McVeigh had been abandoned by his mother, had not been able to find an acceptable job, and was out of societiy's favor and norms. Huberty had been fired/eliminated from his job, was full of anger and reacted accordingly.  This elimination caused him to have a social death which was followed by revenge.  All of these people felt no solace in this world, only anger and the pressing urge for retaliation, which gave them the opportunity to avenge themselves for all of the wrongdoings that they felt had been heaped upon them.

We Jews are very familiar with the term elimination and exclusion.  We were excluded in Nazi Germany bit by bit.  One of the early official signs was the order by the Hitler regime to forbid kosher slaughtering, thus robbing our brethren of some essential nourishment; next came many more stringent matters including disallowing our children from attending public schools (since there were few Jewish schools in Germany this meant traveling to other towns or not receiving an education). Then came the boycotting of Jewish businesses, thus stopping our source of earning a livelihood; not giving us ration stamps to buy food; also the prohibition against permitting Jews to sit on park benches and ultimately eliminating us completely by taking away all of our earthly goods and kicking us into cattle cars until the final elimination of six million occurred.

Our Jewish brethren in this country  are not totally immune from exclusion from one another.  How do we manage that?  First of all most Jews live in upper middle class neighborhoods, thus leaving those with little money to live a more isolated life in the city.  To attend synagogue is more difficult for them since they need transportation to get them there.  Secondly, if they can get there, they feel ostracized by some since their clothing are not as stylish as the other attendees and they either feel embarrassed or are actually criticized or excluded by an appreciable number of the attendees. They do not have professional jobs and thus feel inferior to the “pedigreed” with their titles.  They  may either feel unwelcome or are made to feel that way since they are unable to afford the membership or even the high holiday tickets to be admitted.  In order to be admitted for these holy days they must expose themselves to “begging”, which makes their attendance repugnant to them. If they do own a rusty old vehicle they are looked at with misgivings and gossip and they feel or are made to feel outside of the group.   It is frequently the raised eyebrow, the unspoken word, the aloofness, the comparison and the feeling of inferiority that permeates the very being of the human being that even tries to fit in in order to be acceptable to those who surround him.   

Since we Jews are essentially a nonviolent group, those among our brethren who are excluded eliminate themselves, withdrawing from very painful exclusionary situations by becoming introverted and depressed; dealing with outsiders i.e. non Jews; making little or no attempts at inclusion, and always being strangers outside of the threshold.  Because of all this there is little surprise at the large number of intermarriages, at our diminishing census figures and ultimately at the loss of our Jewish identity.

As a people and as individuals we must make every sincere effort to practice inclusion, not exclusion, extinction and ultimately elimination.


Dr. Ursula A. Falk is a psychotherapist in private practice and the co-author, with Dr. Gerhard Falk, of Grandparents:  A New Look at the Supporting Generation (publ. 2002)

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