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Safety & Comfort -- Chronicle Online/The WORD 10/13/22

Weekly On-line Rabbi's D'var-Torah

October 13, 2022

18 Tishrei 5783


Kanye West’s antisemitic outburst on Twitter got a LOT of attention this past week. Good! Kanye has over 30 million followers on Twitter and, presumably, they all saw his words talking about perpetrating violence against Jews because we have too much power in the world. Sadly, this was not the only example of antisemitism by prominent or powerful individuals. Doug Mastriano—who is running to be the governor of Pennsylvania—called out his Jewish opponent, Josh Shapiro, for sending his children to a Jewish day school. According to Mastriano, that school imbues Jewish children with “disdain for people like us.” We can only assume that the “us” refers to Christian voters. On the opposite side of the country, Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez resigned under pressure after a recording of her making racist comments about a colleague became public. While her racism got most of the headlines, she also made antisemitic comments about Jews orchestrating things behind the scenes to their advantage and the disadvantage of other minority groups. It is a reminder that antisemitism lurks in all corners of American society. It is no small coincidence that this occurred as we Jews are celebrating the festival of Sukkot. As part of that celebration, we are supposed to dwell in temporary dwellings—called sukkot in the plural, a sukkah in the singular—for the course of the week. There are two explanations as to the origin of the sukkah. One possibility is that they were the structures in which the Israelites lived during the 40 years of wandering in the wilderness between Egypt and the Promised Land. A second possibility is that they were the structures the Israelites built for the harvest in the land of Israel after settling in the land. They were used for sleeping so that workers would not have to waste time traveling back and forth to the fields, and for keeping the produce out of direct sunlight. Either way, they were temporary structures. So, now, centuries later, traditional Jews build sukkot to remind ourselves of what it’s like to live in a temporary shelter—as opposed to the permanent homes many of us enjoy. In other words, we should never take our comfort and safety for granted. It’s the same thing when it comes to antisemitism. We can never take our comfort and safety for granted—even in this amazing country. Although we are only 2% of the US population, nearly 60% of hate crimes motivated by religious bias were directed toward Jews (click here for more details). It’s enough to make us feel a little uncomfortable and a little unsafe in our own homes. That is why we must call out antisemitism whenever we hear it or see it. We can’t let it go just because we like the way someone sings. We can’t let it go because someone is from the political party we favor. If we want to continue to enjoy the safety and comfort of our homes here in this country, we must call out ALL antisemitism. L’Shanah Tovah, RAF.

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