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01/02/2020 01:05:05 PM


Rabbi Jeffrey Myers

You most likely have heard me speak of, or write about the H word. It remains a foundation to the violence that it creates. Many would think of the spate of anti-Semitic violence in the Greater New York area as the answer to the question of “how’s that going for you?”. The news that is reported to us on a daily basis reflects a profound imbalance towards violence. Television stations believe that is all we want to see and know. I say “believe” because I don’t know if they ever ask us what we would like to see on the news. I’ve dissected thirty-minute news broadcasts into three components: six minutes of commercials; twenty-three minutes of bad news; one minute of good news. I also include potential inclement weather in the bad news category, as well as the latest salacious tale of some athlete’s bad choices or your favorite team losing. The networks have convinced us that there is nothing good that ever happens. How wrong they are.

We are surrounded by good, decent people, but we just don’t know it. So many toil in anonymity trying to make a difference, improving the lot of others, and just bringing a smile to our faces. When faced with twenty-three minutes of bad news and one piece of fluff, how can we become anything other than depressed?

Yes, the volume and severity of the attacks in Jersey City and Monsey have retraumatized us. There are some who are outraged, leading them to speak out. There are some who are afraid to do Jewish publicly, driving them underground. I am mindful of 15th Century Spain, during the Inquisition, where Jews were forcibly converted or slaughtered. Many of those converted were publicly Christian, yet privately, in underground settings, Jewish.

We must continue to work together as a community to call out anti-Semitism, to ostracize spewers of H. But we cannot do that alone. If “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” has any value in our country as an aspiration, then we must work even harder to partner with faith leaders. An attack upon any group of citizens, regardless of the cause, is an attack upon all Americans, for the perpetrators do not feel that some deserve the same rights and protections that they merit. And that is un-American.

A more important four-letter H word is “hope”. I remain full of hope. Why? Thousands of emails, cards and letters that I have received and continue to receive reassure me that the ugliness we see is not representative of the vast majority of human beings, who reject anti-Semites and the H that they foment. What we need are important faith leaders and elected leaders to stand up together, and speak with one moral, clear voice, rejecting anti-Semitism, branding it as un-American, and working to bring understanding and respect back to the surface. Where are they?

I remain full of hope, not hopeless. We can do this. We must do this.

Mon, August 2 2021 24 Av 5781