Those of you who are close to me know that recently I had my tire slashed in the synagogue parking lot. (I park there,sometime even when I am not in the building, because it is close to our house and in view of my kitchen window.) And while I can’t know the motive of the culprits, I do know it was purposeful as evidenced by the one-plus-inch wide puncture in my sidewall. (I am not so bad a driver as to be able to run over a foreign object with my sidewall.) I reported it to the police and an officer politely took a report. I called my insurance company, but since the repair was less than my deductible-they offered some sympathetic words, some paper work and little else. I asked my mechanic if I should show the tire to the officer, as the slice was much more visable once the tire was removed. He seemed embarassed to tell me he didn't think much would happen.
Not so long ago we had a guest speaker come to the synagogue. Her name is Eva Schloss and she is an author of The Promise and Eva’s Story, both about her experiences as a Holocaust survivor. Like her stepsister, Anne Frank, Eva was found in hiding and taken to a camp at 15 years old. During her speaking engagement, one of the questions asked was “Do you think this could happen again?" Her answer was not only that it could, but also that it seemed likely. The worries she sighted for the Jewish people in the world today parallel the ones she saw in Nazi Germany: the difficult economic decline, the increase in anti Semitic overtures, and the acceptance of people wanting to play the ‘blame game’.
Schloss also told us about Nazi officers, who had escaped and never faced trials like Nuremberg and were interviewed years later. Not only had they not apologized, or even offered feeble excuses,as some citizens had, she told us of one man, who when asked if he had any regrets, was quoted as saying only that they hadn’t been able to finish the job!
Online and in social situations, more recently, I have seen more infighting among Jewish people, than I care to. (Sometimes this is based on denomination, sometimes not.) A woman I know fairly well belongs to a synagogue that is independent, which means they have members of more than one denomination. This presents, what I can only imagine are some remarkable challenges. But who would have guessed that one of the challenges would be infighting and back biting among members.
More recently, a friend of mine posted on FB that she dreamed she had married to a conservative Rabbi. (She is Orthodox.) This post led to a good deal of congratulations and good-natured joking… at first. Then some of the comments started to lean toward the aggressive, the judgemental and, I thought, a little mean. I even began to wonder if this was the purpose of the post, however, this doubt is more a reflections of my state of mind and a harsh social climate, rather than any fault of my FB friend.
I understand the urge to be proud of one’s identity-but are we so separate? Do we have to be? I recall that old adage that ‘anyone less religious than me is a heretic and anyone more religious, a fanatic’. But it also occurs to me that in Eva’s books, or in any other account I have ever read of the Holocaust, no one ever asked about a Jewish person’s affiliation before the victims were carted off and locked up, or worse.
One need only read a list of headlines to see that incidences of anti Semitism are on the rise. And, just as effectively, read the nasty comments left on related online articles. People are quite vocal about their beliefs, especially negative ones. And it is no secret that anti-Zionism has become the new anti-Semitism. One need only blame their hatred of an entire people on perceived political ideals and imagined injustices.
During a recent meeting (whose purpose will remain nameless, as it doesn’t really matter) I saw two people arguing with each other in a way that would make you think they were enemies rather than those with a common goal. One of my colleagues remarked before she left-that someone should tell people- “We DO have enemies, and they are NOT the people in this room!!
(So I am.) Ahavas Yisrael