Supreme Court Justice, Louis Brandeis, once expressed that he was sorry to be born a Jew. After some anti-Semites cheered, he continued:“I am sorry that I was born a Jew, but only because I wish I had the privilege of choosing Judaism on my own.”
Yes, ours is a religious heritage in which we ought to feel great pride. Such was my feeling as I stood among many thousands of Jewish and non-Jewish people who had gathered in New York this past Sunday as a demonstration of solidarity in response to increasing anti-Semitism. And I was not surprised that it was peaceful and inclusive of all who stand against hate and prejudice. Yes, I felt that I was among people who are dedicated to making this a better society; people embracing a vision where we judge each other by one’s character rather than religion or race.
As all of us were about to cross the Brooklyn Bridge,I was reminded of one of my favorite rabbinic teachings. Rabbi Nachman, who lived centuries ago, taught that“all of life is as the crossing of a narrow bridge, and the most important thing is not to be afraid.”
So must we confront the current increase in anti-Semitic acts with vigilant awareness and without fear. In truth, we have always been a people of great inner strength and hope. And now, as we stand proudly as Jews, we hope for a time when all good people will band together to overcome those forces of evil about which we hear just about every day.
Together we are strong. And together we will yet cause light to prevail where there is darkness, as I believe that that is our purpose and our historic destiny.
In the words of one of the people with whom I marched the other day: “I’ve marched for everyone else….and now it’s time to be there for my people.” And that’s true for all of us, especially at this tenuous time.
I wish you a Shabbat of peace and love. Together, let us cross the “bridge” that leads to a better time for us and our society.