Happy New Year – L’Shana Tova
This is an entry that i wrote last year but forgot to clean up and click publish. Last night, while sitting in shul watching a different Rabbi’s sermon about HOME and HOPE, this old entry resurfaced in my mind and i found it and dusted it off for u to come and see.
9/22/2010 Written (one year ago)
We have just recently finished high holidays and i did alot of soul searching. While i am not Jewish – i attend Rosh Hashanna and Yom Kippur services with my family and this year since the kids decided they were old enuf to fast – i fasted as well.
The Rabbi’s sermon on Yom Kippur was particularly powerful and troubling as he spoke about Anti-Zionism being a new face / front for Antisemitism. It reminded me of Rabbi Seixas letter to George Washington so many years ago re: a government that to “bigotry gives no sanction, to persecution no assistance.” It was such a good phrase and so in sync with our founding principles that George re-used the phrase in his returned correspondence.
Its a phrase i think of often. It kinda fits with my other favorite phrase from Gandhi “whatever you do may seem insignificant, but it is most significant you do it.”
I think the two thoughts come to me mind as i begin this new year because they present a call to duty – the “heal the world” to tikkun olam when i’d rather just be an ostrich. I’d rather not know of these deep internal strife amongst Jewish people. I’d rather not reflect on the growing antisemitism and anti-Islam in Europe. I’d rather not have to answer our youngster’s question on the walk home
“will there be another Holocaust?”
or when we break the fast “will there be another Holocaust?”
or at bed time “where there be another Holocaust?”
Each time – a bit of a different answer came forward.
To the first one – “no there will not”
(because this is what i want to believe and because denile is a mighty big river in Egypt)
to the 2nd time – “there have been Holocausts since that one – you know there has – so it is possible. Yes it is possible. No one believed it was posssible 60 + years ago and still some today work hard to deny it was ever true. So, yes, my darling it is possible.”
to the 3rd time – “only if we allow it”
as our Rabbi said: “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” (Burke)
And then the call to stand in this place of tension and to realize:
According to Rabbi Bunim of P’shiskha, everyone should have two pockets, each containing a slip of paper. On one should be written: I am but dust and ashes, and on the other: The world was created for me. From time to time we must reach into one pocket, or the other. The secret of living comes from knowing when to reach into each.
And to know that in forging a balance within this place of tension, we become whole. And as a different Rabbi told us at a different service several years before – the word Shalom, which is Hebrew generally translated as Peace, is actually “to be complete, perfect, whole or full”
and as another clergy from another time told us: (bold added by me)
We should never forget that everything Adolf Hitler did in Germany was “legal” and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did in Hungary was “illegal.” It was “illegal” to aid and comfort a Jew in Hitler’s Germany.
Even so, I am sure that, had I lived in Germany at the time, I would have aided and comforted my Jewish brothers. If today I lived in a Communist country where certain principles dear to the Christian faith are suppressed, I would openly advocate disobeying that country’s antireligious laws.
I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.
I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and that when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress. I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that the present tension in the South is a necessary phase of the transition from an obnoxious negative peace, in which the Negro passively accepted his unjust plight, to a substantive and positive peace, in which all men will respect the dignity and worth of human personality. Actually, we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. We bring it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with. Like a boil that can never be cured so long as it is covered up but must be opened with all its ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must be exposed, with all the tension its exposure creates, to the light of human conscience and the air of national opinion before it can be cured.
(Excerpts from MLK Jrs “Letter from Birmingham Jail” 1963)
And as another clergy told us “First they came for the socialists and I did not speak out…” http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10007392
Will there be another Holocaust?
Only we can determine the answer to that question
“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” (Burke)
May this new year be filled with our efforts to forge a positive peace so that true justice and love may reign
and … let there be light.