I think, “How is it possible that Hoffman never knew his Jewish background?” Maybe Hoffman is simply an actor attempting to convince the rest of us that he was unaware of his family’s history. It’s possible that I’m merely naive, but I really don’t think so. I think of my parents’ attempts to keep Yiddish a kind of secret language, unknown by us children. I remember how I was shielded from getting to know the branch of our family that lived in the orbit of Rabbi Soloveichik, the Bostoner Rebbe, and the Hasidic community he led.
Sometimes our families merely wish to protect us from knowledge that they suspect might make us more vulnerable than we otherwise would be. But Hoffman’s reaction to learning about his Jewish ancestors shows powerfully what kind of damage and pain are caused by disconnection from our roots. Being protected by an inauthentic identity provides no real protection at all. At least if you know who you are you can be a part of a community that offers support, protection and self-knowledge when the vulnerability we all experience is exploited by haters. —Rabbi Kerry Baker
Read referenced article: http://tinyurl.com/hsywyjb