There are few times in life that I am moved to no words. Intellectually I understand that people in the world often struggle with accepting and even tolerating others religious differences. What one sees as normal, another may see as barbaric. I understand this. What I don’t understand is attacking another person for a difference in belief. Today in the news there was a headline that stood out to me, “Fear Marks the Beginning of Passover in America”. Really? “Why are we fearful?” I wondered to myself, and clicked on the link.
Yesterday morning in Gaithersburg, Maryland congregants woke up to find swastikas and racial slurs spray painted all over the windows and doors of their synagogue. I shook my head in disgust. It is no secret that the Jewish people have long been a target for persecution. It seems almost the norm to use Jewish people as the “butt of jokes”. There’s even a category of “Jew jokes” that makes my skin crawl. But to vandalize a synagogue and paint swastikas? There are no words to express how angry I am. Seriously, what is wrong with people today? Why must our intolerance for other religions run so deep? (Picture Source)
And why attack the Jewish people? Jews have long contributed to medicine, the arts, music, you name it! The core of Judaism is Tikkun Olam… repairing the world… and yet here we are watching fellow Jews having to power wash off spray paint during Pesach. It saddens me deeply.
Of course, as stated in the article, the greater issue now for Jews around the world is safety. Are we truly safe to practice our religion openly? In a nation that was founded as the “land of the free”, in a nation where we have Rights as citizens to practice our religion openly, can we really do that? And if so, at what cost? On one hand the inner rebel and “fighter” in me wants to shout from the rooftops, “We will not live in fear. We will not succumb to hatred!”. But the Mother and Wife in me realizes that people can be very dangerous. Just because we don’t have armies and chariots does not mean that our own Modern Day “Holy Wars” aren’t happening now. They are…. just differently. As Jews we need to be careful when, where, and how we express ourselves.
May you all continue to have a peaceful, blessed, and safe Passover. Pray for the families at Shaare Torah Congregation as they move forward to repair the damage to their synagogue. Stay safe everyone and keep smiling.