Posted on May 28, 2021
May 28 5781
The other day, before I got off a Zoom call with a local Christian colleague, she said to me: “I know things are rough for Jews in America right now. Is there anything I can do to stand with you?” I told her that there was. So often when people come out against antisemitism, they say so in words like “we are against all hatred/bigotry/racism”. It is very hard to argue with that. We do stand against all hatred and bigotry and racism. Of course and emphatically so. But when we say it like that, antisemitism gets buried. Right now it is critical to stand up against antisemitism itself, to name it, and to call it out. We must decry antisemitism specifically, even as we stand against all hatred. I told this to my colleague and she said she would do so.
This is important for all of us.
There has been a staggering increase in antisemitic incidents in this country in the past two weeks. Jews are wondering if it is safe to wear a kippah on the street. In the United States. We are seeing vitriol on social media. We are seeing violence. Sometimes it is couched in anti-Israel rather than anti-Jewish language. But let us be very clear. No matter what one thinks about the politics or policies of the state of Israel, denying the right of Israel to exist is antisemitism. The words “from the river to the sea” are a call for ethnic cleansing of the Jewish people. Such antisemitic positions endanger the lives of millions of Jews.
We will have opportunities over the next few weeks to talk more about antisemitism, anti-Israel, and what is going on in Israel. Let me know if you would like me to send you a compilation of excellent and varied articles about what is going on right now.
On Thursday there was a virtual rally against antisemitism. It was hosted by Jewish organizations across the religious and political spectrum and it included an impressive array of interfaith representatives, political representatives, and representatives of popular culture. I am more than sorry that we need to have such a rally and yet I am heartened by the support. It was very powerful. You can see the rally here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XDC-C4QWO20 . (Inexplicably, the rally itself does not begin until 24 minutes in. Maybe they will fix that.)
My sermon tomorrow is called “Listening to Each Other”. I am going to be reflecting on the rally and on Jewish relationships with ourselves.
On a far more positive note, I am very excited to welcome my family members who are visiting this Shabbat: Leora Spitzer from St. Louis and Gabriella Spitzer and Sandy Johnston from Boston. You will see them in shul tomorrow morning.