Imagine: People are gathered together for a Hanukkah party ata rabbi’s home in Monsey. A crazed man enters and callously attacks five Jewish people with a machete, and we ask ourselves: “Is this the new normal?”
I sit on a crowded airplane as I write these words. I just noticed a young woman walking down the aisle wearing a Star of David. And I wonder: Have we reached a time similar to that of French Jews?While I have been away for a short time, I have learned of ten different attacks against Jews during that time. And I ask myself: Will I become like many of the rabbis of France who have advised their people not to wear outward signs of their Jewish identity lest they face the possibility of being attacked?
In truth, I would not like to live in such a place as I continue to believe that we Jews need to proudly and openly affirm our Jewish identity, especially at the present time. And yes, I am grateful that I live in a country where leaders from all walks of life continue to speak out against anti-Semitism and all expressions of hate. And such is the case in our own community as many have come forth to voice the sentiment that an attack on any American group is a threat to the pluralistic fabric of our country. Thus an attack against all of us.
We have begun a new year. We hope that it will be a better year than this past one. To me that means not only less violence against those who are identified as “different,” but a year of collective soul searching as Americans ask themselves “how do we stop this horrific decay of our society?”
Let us enter this new year with hope and resolve to bring kindness where there is cruelty, goodness where there is evil, and enlightenment where there is moral darkness. And of course, hope where there is despair.
As we envision and dedicate ourselves to such a time, may this be a year when the angel that is within humanity will prevail against the beast that so often lifted its ugly head during the past year.
In Hebrew we say: Lu Yehi—May it only come to be. I wish you Shabbat Shalom and hope that you will join us this evening as we yet again affirm our connection to our fellow Jews, and embrace the heritage that embodies values and ideals that can yet lead our society to a better time.