Some people believe that the way to change the world is to work on changing yourself and by becoming a part of a community that separates itself from the rest of the world. Others think that you can change yourself and the world by coming closer to others in different communities. These are two different ways of looking at what our job is in this world. My Bubie believes that a community that separates itself from other communities can be dangerous because the Jewish people have a role to bring light to ourselves and to others. A community that wants to separate from everyone lives in darkness. We are a people who are not afraid to disagree, to have arguments and to make compromises. It is part of our tradition. Sometimes something or someplace that may seem good is actually very bad. The next story is about a community that lives in darkness, which my Bubie says we must reject. Of course these are only kitty cats.
There was once a family of beautiful black kitty cats. They lived in a neighborhood with lots of people who mostly ignored them. Some people were kind and left food for them, but it was often hard to have enough. Sometimes they didn’t have a place to sleep when it was cold and sometimes there was little food and water for them. They were a happy family, the little cats chasing and playing with each other and the mommy and daddy cats trying to watch them and protect them.
Sometimes the kitties would play in the street, running through the alleyways and looking for mice or birds to eat. There were not too many dogs in the neighborhood so they never really worried about anyone hurting them. Sometimes a little boy or girl would throw something at them or try to kick them but they were very fast and were able to run away before they got a kick or hit with a flying object.
For all of their short lives, the kitties had lived in the same neighborhood. They had friends on almost every block and they knew where all the people who might leave them some food lived. Sometimes they would go outside the neighborhood to see what adventures they might find, but they always knew how to find their way back home.
The kitties were not afraid of anyone, although they knew that there were some people, places and other animals that they should stay away from, just because they could mean trouble. For example, on one street there was a dog that barked and barked as they passed the house and they thought that if that dog ever got out of the yard, there could be a nasty fight between them and the dog. Of course, they believed that they would win that fight but nevertheless, they could be hurt and no one really wants to get hurt.
One day, they heard some cats talking about a place that was a very good place for cats to live. There were some beautiful big cats, called tigers, which made this place for cats and guarded it against dogs and other animals, like lions and bears. The kitties heard their parents speaking about going to this place. There they could live only with cats, like themselves and not have to worry about food all of the time because the tigers were good at catching food and giving it to all of the cats who lived there.
The kitties were told that they shouldn’t tell anyone about going to this place. Maybe they would visit it and see if it was for them and if not decide what to do after that. First their daddy would visit and then come home and tell the family if he had decided to move there.
The kitties were not sure if they wanted to move or to stay. They loved new adventures but they also would miss their friends and other kitty cat family which they had in their neighborhood. They would wait and see what happened.
When their daddy came home, after many weeks, he told them that he and mommy would decide if they should go to live in the place that the tigers had made for the cats. He told them that they could make new friends there and maybe their family could come to visit them sometimes. It was a place only for kitty cats and they would not have to live with people, dogs or other animals. Everyone knew that a tiger is just like a cat only they grow to be much bigger. As cubs they play and chase each other and like to explore and have adventures, so no cat was really afraid of a tiger, why should they be?
Even though the kitties did not tell anyone what their mommy and daddy were thinking to do, the cats in the neighborhood found out and so did their family. They decided to check out what other cats knew about the place that the tigers had built for the cats.
At first, the other cats said that they hadn’t heard much about the tigers’ compound for cats. However, later, some of the cats began to tell the kitties’ family that this place was not what it seemed. Cats could come there but it could be very hard to leave. The tigers removed the cats’ claws so they could not fight and protect themselves. It is hard to run away if you cannot defend yourself.
They learned that if a kitty was bad and didn’t listen to what the tiger said that the tiger could take the kitty away from his family and give him to another family. They learned that if a kitty did anything that a tiger told them that they couldn’t do, they could put them in a dark closed place with little or no food and water and no one could visit them or talk to them. They learned that sometimes a kitty could be punished by the tigers clawing them and hurting them as all the other cats watched. They learned that little kitties had to make a home with older tigers and that they had no choice about which cat they married. They learned that most of the time there was not enough food for all of the cats and that no one could leave without the permission of the tigers. Even though their daddy did not see all of these things, they spoke to cats that had seen these things and some had run away and were still very scared and very frightened of the tigers.
The kitties could not protect themselves from the tigers if their parents decided to take them to this place. They could not run to their family or their friends or their teachers or their neighbors. They would be alone in a place that was controlled by tigers who could decide what they could do and not do. There would be no more exploring the neighborhood, no more chasing mice, eating the food nice people left for them, listening to the music coming from the houses, and being free to choose what cat to make a home with. All of these decisions would be made by the tigers and if they did not agree, they would be severely punished.
So what do you think the family of these kitties did when they heard about the place the tigers had made for cats and how their father and mother were thinking about taking them to this place? What do you think you would do?
The family of the kitties had to figure out a way to keep the kitties in their own neighborhood where they were safe from the tigers. The family knew that even though a tiger looks just like a cat, only bigger, it is not a cat. Tigers’ teeth are for tearing their food and chewing it. They run faster and can be more ferocious, which means dangerous and mean. Because they are bigger than cats, they can make the cats do what they want and hurt or kill them if the cats don’t do what they want.
The kitties’ family decided that they would do everything they could to prevent the kitties from going to the place the tigers had made for the cats. All of the cats in the neighborhood said that they would help. They didn’t want the kitties to go to a place where they could be hurt by tigers. All of the friends and neighbors said that they would protect the kitties. They could explore and go to many places not too far from home, but they could not go far, far away to a place where cats and kitties were being hurt and harmed by tigers.
Soon, the neighbors and family heard that the tigers had been eaten by lions and many of the cats had run away from this place the tigers had made for them, but some had stayed and tried to continue to convince the cats that this was a good place for them. The neighbors and the family of the kitties were not fooled. They knew that any place where you couldn’t explore, hear music, were punished if you didn’t do what tigers wanted you to do, and you were not free to marry when and whom you wanted was not a good place for kitties to be.
Sometimes the kitties got mad at their family and friends from stopping them from leaving to go to this place because they thought it meant that they could never go anyplace. But, their friends and family explained that this is not true. “When you grow up and are old enough to make decisions for your life, you will be able to go anywhere you want to go. Hopefully, you will choose only places that are safe for cats and not places where tigers make the decisions for you”, they explained.
It is sometimes difficult to know the difference between a good place and a bad place, or a good cat and a bad one. Tigers may seem gentle when they are cubs or when they are resting, but a tiger must always get its own way and because of that he is a dangerous creature, one a cat and especially a kitty should stay away from.