Category Archives: Anti-Semitism

A call to Action

Like so many, I am deeply unsettled about events. My response is a sober, somber, and urgent call to action. Many of my friends and colleagues have spoken eloquently denouncing the vile behavior in Charlottesville. But speeches, outrage, and resistance do little to change the behavior of haters, or those feckless holders of power unable to speak to moral issues for fear of alienating a political base.

All people of good conscience must take a stand and actively support those who condemn the despicable hatred demonstrated in Charlottesville. A moral stand does not know political right or left; the courage to speak against evil is an expression of the American Values we hold dear and our basic humanity. This is a fundamental binary choice. If there ever was a litmus test for a politician, surely this is it.

For those of us who already have representatives who uphold Virtue, we cannot be satisfied that we have done our part. We must lend assistance to those in other places where this battle remains engaged. The time for action has never been critical; the stakes have never been greater.

Hate has No Home Here in Philadelphia or anywhere in the USA

 

An Anti-Semitic desecration of a cemetery has come to Philadelphia. As most already know, the Mt Carmel Cemetery was vandalized and between 75-100 headstones were toppled. This is an empty act of cowardice, hatred, and stupidity. But more important than the base acts of these thugs is the outpouring of love and support in our community. People joined at Mt. Carmel Cemetery to witness the vandalism and begin the process of restoration. A vigil was held last night in Narberth to express solidarity.

Hate has no home here.

Please donate what you can to aid in the restoration by clicking on this link to the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia: https://www.jewishphilly.org/donate-now-mt-carmel-cemetery#.

Also, the Daarus Salaam Mosque in Tampa was burned this past Friday. Please make a donation to help the Islamic Society of New Tampa community rebuild as well by going to: https://www.launchgood.com/project/stand_with_new_tampa_muslims_against_hate#/

Together we stand, a bit shaken but unbowed, committed to the values of love and unity that make our country great. No acts of domestic terrorism or hatred will dampen our commitment to each other and the country we love.

 

People of Faith United against Terror, Where are you Mr. President?

The third wave of terror threats against JCCs has swept across our country to begin this week. This on the heels is the actual act of terror: setting a Mosque on fire. These are not idle pranks. These are coordinated attacks designed to create havoc and fear in the Jewish and Muslim Communities. This is Terrorism.

As scary as these terror attacks are, so is the lack of response by the President. Why hasn’t he spoken out against domestic terrorism and on behalf of the FBI and the Justice Department supporting a full-scale investigation?   Why hasn’t the White House publicly condemned these criminal acts of hate? Silence is the tacit acceptance that hatred of Jews and Muslims is sanctioned. A nation dedicated to freedom of religion must act to protect the exercise of that freedom when it is threatened.   The First Amendment is more than fancy words written on fancy paper in fancy script. It is the eloquent aspiration of a nation striving to a beacon to the world; it is the bedrock principle upon which that nation is built. If it is anything less, then it is not worth the paper it is written upon.

President Trump, I call upon you to publicly condemn these acts and actively voice support law enforcement’s efforts to find the perpetrators of these odious acts and bring them to justice.

We people of faith stand together, united in our American voice that ensures each of us can speak in our own particular way.   This solidarity is beautifully represented by Temple B’nai Israel giving its keys to the Victoria Islamic Center’s founders so that the Mosque’s people of faith have a home until they can rebuild and a public funding page dedicated to raising money to ensure that happens.

An Open Letter to Jared Kushner

An Open Letter to Jared Kushner

Mr. Jared Kushner

Publisher

The Observer

1 Whitehall St.

New York, NY 10004

November 11, 2016

Dear Mr. Kushner:

Congratulations to you on the victory of your father-in-law becoming the President-Elect. The election was fair and the people have spoken. However, this election has left a deeply divided country, many of us fearful because of things Mr. Trump has said and the groups that allied with him. We must see the repudiation of racism and bigotry, and Donald Trump must extend the hand of peace and wholeness.

You have claimed that Donald Trump is not an Anti-Semite. However, his words of divisiveness preyed on the fearful and the hate mongers. Groups including the Alt-Right, White Supremacists, and the Ku Klux Klan have rallied to your father-in-law finding permission to boldly and blatantly express their despicable views. This cannot be abided.

You uniquely have the president-elect’s ear as a confidante and advisor. You must use your position to speak on behalf of those genuinely fearful of persecution and loss of civil rights under the protection of a Trump Administration. The values you hold as an American and a Jew are antithetical to hatred and bigotry. Your full-throated voice must be raised to help heal and bring our country together, re-assuring all our citizens they are safe, their civil rights intact and sure, that all of us enjoy the full protection of law and dignity.

Sincerely,

Rabbi David Levin

Ani L’Dodi, An enduring relationship

“Ani L’Dodi v’Dodi Li.” These poetic words from the Song of Solomon are spoken as words of commitment under the marriage canopy. “I am My Beloved’s and My Beloved is mine” is the symbolic joining and full commitment of one to another. We aspire to this in our deepest relationships. But as a people we have sadly failed to live up to this hope. Every Jew is integral to Israel and Israel is integral to every Jew. We are bound inextricably together emotionally and spiritually, a modern homeland and the diaspora, two parts of one whole. Together greater than the individual parts could achieve.

 We do however permit the separation and distance, a cleaving when we hear when some claim to be against Israel but fine with Jews; that it is possible to be anti-Zionist while not being Anti-Semitic. For Jews such parsing of words is false. It speaks to a reading of history that is biased and ultimately these two hatreds conflate.

 I was struck when Iranian President Rouhani offered New Year Greetings to Jews of the world while almost within the same breath recommitted his country to the extermination of Israel. “May our shared Abrahamic roots deepen respect and bring peace and mutual understanding.” This seems to be a disingenuous goodwill offering since his worldview requires the eradication of Israel, where approximately 6million of my fellow Jews reside and would be murdered for to achieve his political goal.

 Jews find themselves attempting to parse words and find something good in Rouhani’s outreach. This “olive branch” however is a straw man. It is an insidious attempt to separate Israel from its own people through the delegitimizing efforts by Israel’s enemies.   Even when we disagree with policies or politics within Israel, we cannot divorce ourselves from her, or permit others to divide us. Israel is a fundamental part of us. Who we are is in some measure defined by our relationship to Israel. Commitment to Israel’s growth and evolution as well as our commitment to the State’s survival is at the heart of what it means to be in relationship with another. An attack on our spouse with the caveat that you however are all right would be deeply offensive. And we would defend the one we love. How can we not rise to the defense of our brethren as well?

 I am in deep relationship. I have a vested interest in Israel’s success both as a nation and as an aspiration. When Israel falters, I have the responsibility to be constructively critical because of my relationship. Helping Israel to be better makes me better as well. We all are improved off as a result of such efforts. And when people stop calling for the destruction of a part of who I am, I will gratefully acknowledge offerings of good tidings for the coming year.

Pamela Geller and the Nazis

I recall concluding that I needed to support the Nazis marching in Skokie, IL back in 1977 on the basis of free speech. I was a college student at the University of Chicago and the debate was hitting close to home on multiple levels, for me as an American and as a Jew. The need to defend the right of free speech in this country was fundamentally important to both identities. I ultimately supported the right of the Nazis to march despite the despicable hate speech they spewed.

 So too it is with Pamela Geller. Like the Nazis she too spews a venom of hate. Like the Nazis she has dehumanized her prey and tried to mock their beliefs. Like the Nazis she too has painted her victims as threats to our way of life. And like with the Nazis, I support the right of free speech including Geller’s right to fan flames of hate, bigotry and fear in this country.

 We are stronger than Geller or her bile. Her thoughts and actions are both despicable and the world she envisions is more a threat to our way of life than anything she might accuse the Muslim community of perpetrating.

 Fortunately most Muslims see her for what she is, a hateful bigot. They mock and dismiss her insults. We, the Jewish community and the entire American community, need to admire and respect their ability to shrug off her offensive rants. Many Muslims in America are much like us. They come here to build a better life for their families based on the ideals of the American system including freedom of speech, freedom of religion and the inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And they live here because this is their home.

 When we repudiate the hateful speech and thoughts of people like Geller, we all move forward. We fight her by shining light on her repugnant hate-filled talk, by coming together around our fundamental American values and together declaring there is no place in our society for her loathsome ideas; we are better than that.