Disclaimer: This may be a controversial post (not sure but I’ll find out soon enough). Read with caution.
If you’re a Jew- no matter where you are reading this in the world- you have skimmed hundreds, if not thousands, of articles, tweets, statuses, and photos regarding the war in Gaza. You probably have also noted the increasingly overt antisemitic sentiments expressed internationally.
History was never my favorite topic in school, but I do remember adults wringing their hands, worrying about how us kids would remember the Holocaust. Particularly as our Old World grandparents aged, who would deliver the personal accounts that bring to life Nazi Germany’s atrocities and brutality? Who would serve as a living reminder that the Jewish people are vulnerable to persecution, subject to unadulterated hatred?
Fast forward to August 2014. Only last week was the Jewish fast day of Tisha B’Av, a day preceded by three weeks of mourning for the destruction of the Holy Temple.
So many of us had the most meaningful fast day of our lives. Fresh in our minds were the murders of Gil-ad Shaar, Eyal Yifrach, Naftali Fraenkel and the heroes who died fighting to protect the people of Israel so this horrific tragedy never repeats itself.
Do you remember last Tisha B’Av’s hot topic for the Jews?
Rewind to August 2013. I only drudge up the past to strike a contrast. Women of the Wall were making headlines in both right and left-wing newspapers. Everyone had an opinion and the counter-group, Women for the Wall emerged.
I’d prefer to avoid the details of how one group of Jewish women were protesting another group of Jewish women protesting over their role in prayer. And I’m not voicing my opinion on the matter because it bears no relevance. I’m also not saying that it’s wrong to stand up for what a person believes to be right.
Last year, the three weeks of mourning were launched with the Western Wall barricaded so Jewish people couldn’t pray at the holiest place on earth- not because of any terror threat– but because we as a Jewish nation couldn’t come to a peaceful resolution.
Let’s examine the significant consequences of this heated debate. We, Jews, were pitted against one another in total strife, oblivious to the world’s feeling on modern day Jewry, while Gil-ad, Eyal, and Naftali were safely at home.
I was actually embarrassed by opinions and articles I heard and read, each disparaging the other side, accusing one another of terrible intentions, no one seeking to wave a white flag and make up. We are family after all.
While I obviously could never say “our boys” would still be safe at home if not for our infighting, I do know that baseless hatred between Jews is what destroyed the Holy Temple thousands of years ago. Division between Jews seems to always be followed by persecution from a Gentile nation.
It’s as if there’s a power that forces us together every time we try to break apart whether through assimilation or hatred for each other (usually both).
As I began my blogging journey this past year, I was (naively?) shocked to discover an underworld of Jewish people who wanted to prevent outreach on campus to Jewish students. These Jewish people vehemently disagreed with outreach professionals intentionally exposing Jewish students on campus to their own heritage. Hosting Shabbat meals, giving classes, meeting one-on-one all became acts twisted by manipulation and control. I’m still saddened that this demographic exists. You can check my archives for the debates. On a positive note, two of the many lessons I learned from this experience were:
1. How incredibly sad it is that people would want to stop Jews drawing other Jews closer to Judaism.
2. How special it was to feel so strongly in opposition to this view, while still remaining respectful and even befriending (via Facebook) the Jewish leader who unified these voices. (Some of these voices were less than friendly, in fact, but the woman who I was actually debating always encouraged respect from her followers).
Jewish people are a thinking bunch and having differing opinions defines us as a nation. But tearing one another apart for our differences? This is our downfall. This is us loading a gun and pointing it at ourselves. And then turning the gun over to Hamas or whoever the group of the hour is that wants Jewish people obliterated.
The best way to honor our Holocaust survivors and those murdered in every pogrom, inquisition, and attempted genocide is by keeping our Jewish family united and connected to each other and our heritage vibrant.
Thank God, the IDF is doing a bang-up job defending us, protecting us, and strengthening us. But our enemies, with their desire to see us disappear, will not go away until we- differences and all- unite as a nation with love and respect.