We must reach out to each other first

The Canadian Jewish News (Toronto) - - Comment - Avrum Rosensweig

These days are con­fus­ing. The nights seem to be a touch darker. The days seem to be longer.

It is dif­fi­cult to know what the fu­ture holds for the world, for the Jewish Peo­ple and for Is­rael. A cer­tain crack has ap­peared in our world, one that di­vides and al­lows for the pol­lu­tion of our pri­mary wa­ter source – good­ness. We can­not know if the ci­vil­ity we have learned over the last seven decades will hold or if our em­pa­thy will reign supreme as the days ahead re­veals them­selves.

But we do know that our peo­ple, the Jewish Peo­ple, is a spe­cial mass, and within our con­trol, is the abil­ity to show love for ev­ery Jew. We do know it is time for Jews ev­ery­where to em­brace all our brothers and sis­ters. We know in our nishamot (souls) that we must put aside our dif­fer­ences, such as our re­fusal to talk to a rel­a­tive or a shul mem­ber we have not spo­ken to be­cause of some small and in­signif­i­cant in­sult or dif­fer­ence. This is work, but worth­while be­cause it will em­power the Jewish Peo­ple to do our pri­mary task – re­pair­ing the world and en­sur­ing our chil­dren are safe.

The days ahead are foggy. The re­cent surge of anti-semitism, swastikas on our re­li­gious ed­i­fices, is caus­ing a thorny dis­com­fort. No doubt many of us won­der what will hap­pen this time, as an­gry ter­ror­ists and su­prem­a­cists of all types raise their ugly hands, show­ing their dis­dain for ev­ery­one not them.

It is pre­cisely dur­ing these hours how­ever, that the Chil­dren of Is­rael, ev­ery man, wo­man and of­ten our chil­dren, must ex­tend their hands to the Jews who look dif­fer­ent than they do, whether they have donned a shtreiml, or the silky kip­pah they pick out of a box at the en­trance to our tem­ples.

These days, the love of ev­ery Jew must be our pri­or­ity, as the task ahead re­quires one­ness.

What are we, the Jewish Peo­ple, to ex­pect in the months ahead, as im­mi­grants and refugees are cas­ti­gated, just as we were, and mil­lions are ac­cused of bring­ing ter­ror to our lives. Do we for­get our grand­moth­ers and our grand­fa­thers docked at Cana­dian har­bours, pen­ni­less, ex­hausted with mem­o­ries of ma­raud­ing thugs beat­ing any Jew they could find? Do we for­get those turned back to die in death camps? Does our mem­ory fail us when poor souls from other lands are called ver­min and leeches? That is what they called us.

Or do we in­stead re­call the words of Emma Lazarus in­scribed on the Statue of Lib­erty meant to in­spire fu­ture gen­er­a­tions to act when evil tries to out­sprint good­ness in a race to re­shape our world, our Earth, all peoples?

Do we take Emma’s words to heart: “Here at our sea-washed, sun­set gates shall stand a mighty wo­man with a torch, whose flame is the im­pris­oned light­ning, and her name Mother of Ex­iles. From her bea­con-hand glows world­wide welcome... Give me your tired, your poor, your hud­dled masses yearn­ing to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teem­ing shore. Send these, the home­less, tem­pest-tossed to me. I lift my lamp be­side the golden door!”

These are con­fus­ing times, but we are a wise peo­ple with a mighty home­land – Is­rael. Let us do what is ours to do – and that is to open our hearts to our own peo­ple. Let us then, cau­tiously and with thought, nur­ture the world, which is ours to ste­ward as long as we breathe the cher­ished gift of life God has given us.

Am Yis­rael Chai. God bless our world.

These days, the love of ev­ery Jew must be our pri­or­ity

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