YOM KIPPUR UNATANA TOKEF 2016
I read an article by a woman who wanted to be warned before the chanting of the Unatana Tokef so that she could walk out and not have to suffer from the images it evoked. On the one hand I thought, “Wow, a congregant who takes prayer seriously and knows what she is praying. This is wonderful!” On the other hand I wondered, “Isn’t this what prayer is supposed to do? Are we not supposed to wrestle with ourselves and yes, with God, too?”
One Step Forward: Recently Israel, for the first time, took its place as Head of a Permanent UN Committee. Danny Danon, Israel’s envoy to the UN, will chair the UN’s Sixth Committee, which interprets legal questions in the General Assembly. Danon, appointed by Netanyahu, is opposed to a two-state solution. His election to the committee was opposed by the OIC (Organization of Islamic Cooperation) but supported by the Western European and Others regional (WEOG) group.
Second step forward: In 2018, for the first time, Israel will have the opportunity to run for a seat on the Security Council. This Council is obsessed with finding Israel as the world violator of human rights despite the multi-front wars occurring in nearby areas, and the devastation and expulsion or flight of millions of people who are now exiled and homeless.
How can that possibly be? What creates the environment that allows an international community to agree to condemn Israel over other human rights violators? Wherever hate is unleashed, regardless of the perceived target, Jews have historically been, and will for the foreseeable future continue to be, recipients of the fallout of that hate.
One step back: In Brexit, the ‘other’ worker objected to were the Poles. Yet, swastikas are being found all over England. England was the voice of defense in the EU when issues of circumcision and kashrut arose. Who will speak up now in the EU? With the current sentiment against all foreigners, despite many living there for decades and generations, who will support the Jews in the UK? Jews had been expelled 200 years prior to Christopher Marlowe writing The Jew of Malta in 1594 and Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice two years later. Will living with Jews make it more difficult to turn against them?
Second step back: Jews live without fear in America. Unless you are attending a university where hate crimes are up according to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program. Contrary to popular belief, according to the FBI, 57% of religiously targeted hate crimes targeted Jews.
Are you on twitter? Have you seen or heard of the Jewish Cowbell? It looks like this:
((( NAME ))).
"The inner parenthesis represent the Jews' subversion of the home [and] destruction of the family through mass-media degeneracy. The next [parenthesis] represents the destruction of the nation through mass immigration, and the outer [parenthesis] represents international Jewry and world Zionism."
This internet meme began a few weeks ago as part of a response to a New York Times reporter, Jonathan Weisman’s tweet, regarding an essay by Robert Kagan on the emergence of fascism in the United States. Since then, I have had friends and colleagues report that they have been the victims of internet abuse and harassment. Many Jews are fighting back by encapsulating their own names in the triple parentheses announcing being a Jew is a source of pride.
How is it then, that regardless of the fight, hate always exposes anti-Semitism?
Perhaps the answer is that being a Jew isn’t simple. It is not simply a religion although it revolves around a belief in an ethical monotheistic God. It is not a simple race since it is comprised of people of many races. Indeed, Israel may be the only country to fly people from other countries and of other races onto its land. It is not a simple culture since it draws from and blends with many cultures of the world. As Jews, we have lived in nearly every corner of the world. While based on ancient texts, Judaism is ever evolving. Unless someone is keeping up, they will frequently make invalid suppositions. And,
Third step back: Scapegoating is a psychological defense mechanism that provides a sense of gratification or denial by targeting ‘others’ for justified aggression by projecting blame on them and convincing themselves (and often others) that negative occurrences are the scapegoat’s responsibility. In as much as the term scapegoat originated in the Torah, we have now completed the dance.
Nonetheless, if you saw the postings in Rabbis Against Gun Violence, they said, #DisarmHate. Our job as Jews is to keep looking to find the Divine in our fellow human beings, to view every human being b’tzelem Elohim, in the image of God and to assist in ridding humanity of hate. Here’s a way to begin: attempt to go a week without using the word against, person, place or thing.
BTW: Ginger Rogers said her job was to do everything Fred Astaire did except in high heels and backwards. Sometimes, three steps back is the same dance as three steps forward.
Enjoy the balance of the summer.
We Were Strangers
Rabbi Stephen Fox wrote, “Our core values push us to fight for the right of the immigrant to be treated fairly and justly. The Reform rabbinate has for years pushed for a comprehensive approach: improve border security and immigration law enforcement, provide for a just and fair path to citizenship for those in the country without legal documentation, provide basic protections for workers, and be inclusive of LGBT families.” Aside from the last piece being unrelated to immigration, Pesach is an appropriate time to remember that unless you are Native American, we are all immigrants Many of our ancestors were unwanted here, came in through back doors, with changed names and identities, attached to unrelated families.
When we left Egypt, Mitzriyim, meaning a narrow place, to explore who we would become in the openness of the desert, we left as a mixed multitude. There was to be one law for all among us, Israelite and Egyptian, tribesman and sojourner. As we continue to observe this holiday, which perhaps more than many, reminds us of what is like to be restricted, back in a narrow space, it is appropriate to think of the immigration issue.
Together Colorado is a non-partisan, multi-racial, multi-faith community organization of clergy from Pueblo to Fort Collins, that has come together to find support around issues of the day. By going to their website, you will find information on immigration and an online card for your congressman. If you are comfortable doing so, sign it. You are being given the contact information. Write in opposition if you are so inclined. It is good for all voices to be heard.
I hope your seders were meaningful. May your doors and hearts be open.
May the rest of the holiday be joyous.
I'd love to hear from you. Please leave a comment. To subscribe to this blog leave your email at RSS FEED.
Community educator, choreographer, composer, performer, Becker, M.S.W., M.Ed., M.R.S., Ph.D., serves as rabbi for Temple Emanuel-Pueblo, cellist for Apples and Honey and is a Storahtelling Maven.
FOR MORE INFORMATION ON ISRAEL
WOMEN OF THE WALL http://www.nytimes.com/video/2012/12/22/world/middleeast/100000001969698/women-at-the-western-wall.html