New York Board of Rabbis
December 20, 2019
By Henry Levy
We used to assert that anti-Semitism was a thing of the past, but that is no longer true.
We used to think that sacred space was safe space, but that is no longer true.
We used to believe that "thoughts and prayers" were sufficient in the face of evil, but that is no longer true.
In the wake of incessant anti-Semitic attacks, the question is not what we will say, but what we resolve to do. We proclaim "zero tolerance," but it means zero if there are no serious consequences for perpetrators or those who encourage them. It means zero if we do not educate our youth and ourselves to the truth that hatred in the heart quickly becomes hatred of the hands.
Chanukah challenges us to see the hidden light of hope in the darkness of history. Christmas offers us peace on earth and good will toward all humanity. Kwanzaa teaches us unity, responsibility, and purposefulness. The secular new year offers us a chance to renew our faith in our selves and our world. All of these messages come together to point us away from hate and toward decency. When will we hearken to that message? When will we demand that our neighbors hearken to it as well?
The Psalmist wrote, "You who love God hate evil." We who purport to being God-loving people must demand an immediate end to the evil that is swirling around us. We must stand together across all lines of race, gender, religion, and nation to overwhelm hate mongers who would divide us and demean us. In the spirit of these festive days, we must unite to bring about the triumph of light over darkness.
Rabbi Lester B. Bronstein, NYBR President
Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, NYBR Executive Vice President
Rabbi Diana S. Gerson, NYBR Associate Executive Vice President
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New York Board of Rabbis, 171 Madison Avenue, Suite 1602, New York, NY 1001