Let’s face it, if we were to ban everyone from bar mitzvahs who might cause a scene, there’d be a lot of disinvited wacky uncles, racist grandmas, and sexually precocious classmates. But what if your relative is the unofficial poster child for Zionist betrayal, and it’s not he who threatens the peace of the ceremony but protesters prepared to storm the synagogue? Richard Goldstone’s family faced just such a dilemma. According to numerous sources, the judge and author of the U.N. report accusing Israel of war crimes has been convinced by pressure from the South African Zionist Federation not to attend his grandson’s bar mitzvah in Johannesburg next month.
While excommunication has traditionally been reserved for the intermarried offspring of the ultra-Orthodox or Baruch Spinoza, apparently in this touchy age of political celebrities, a controversial figure’s notoriety is enough to keep him from the kiddush table. In a practically WASP-ish sentiment, the head of the South African Beth Din (Jewish ritual court) calls the decision—ostensibly Goldstone’s own—”quite a sensible thing to avert all this unpleasantness.” In our experience, that’s just not how Jews roll.