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Rabbi’s Observations from the No Hate, No Fear Solidarity Rally and What We Can Do Next (01/04/20)

Rabbi Neil Schuman

Observations from the No Hate, No Fear Solidarity Rally and What We Can Do Next
In days of old, Jews from across the globe would have identified with one another through shared religious practices, beliefs, and language. Nowadays, religious practices and beliefs span an exceptionally wide spectrum, and if you meet Jews whose main language is English, Spanish, Russian or Persian, they may not understand our common languages of old, Hebrew, Yiddish and Ladino.
So here we were, Jews with no particular religious and communal commonalities, amassed on a Sunday morning to show support for each other and speak out against antisemitism. People traveled from as far as Cleveland, Connecticut, Virginia, Delaware, Massachusetts, Upstate NY, and other locations to join us in solidarity. All of us were indignant over the atrocities of the past few weeks and worried about the specter of antisemitism that has reached unprecedented levels.
Braving the cold, we gathered in front of City Hall, walked across the Brooklyn Bridge and rallied together in Cadman Plaza Park. Banners were everywhere: “No hate, no fear”, “Discrimination is not Kosher”, “UnfriendIntolerance” and more, but oddly, there wasn’t a lot of chanting. Was it because there aren’t a lot of words that rhyme with Anti-Semitism, or not enough time to prepare catchy chants beforehand I don’t know, but I thought it was strange for such a large group to be so quiet. I think part of it was an awkwardness towards what language should we use? Should we chant in English, then what makes us different than every other rally? Should we use Hebrew? No, not enough of today’s American Jews are able to chant in Hebrew.
As I scanned the crowd, I wondered what unites us? Certainly, fear was a factor. If things continued the way they are, we’d all be at risk. Yet, there was also a hopefulness that infused the crowd. With all our ethnic, religious and geographical dissimilarities, we united because we believed we could make the world be better.
Our idealism is an inheritance from Abraham and Sarah, and all the generations from them until now. The belief that we can make the world a better place resides in our DNA. How could we have survived thousands of years of hardship in exile conditions unless we believed there was the hope of a greater existence. We harbored that hope until we brought the modern State of Israel into being. What will that hope bring now?
While not many songs and chants caught on among this heterogeneous group of Jews, one song, which felt a little cliche on the Brooklyn Bridge, caught on more than the others. It was a two-hundred-year-old song composed by the motivational Chassidic Rabbi, Rabbi Nachman of Breslov. The words in English are: “The whole world is a very narrow bridge, but the main thing is to have no fear, have no fear at all.”
How can members of Manetto Hill Jewish Center work on making our country a better place for Jews and all peoples. Please attend our Israeli, Jewish and Community Affairs meeting and choose what you’d like to address. Here are some ideas we are milling around:
Contacting representatives in Congress concerning the Never Again Education Act
Contacting NYS officials to amend bail reform to exempt hate crimes from those provisions
Campaigning to pressure social media (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) to prohibit anti-Semitic posts and material
Find out what is taught in the Plainview area re-the Holocaust and take action if it is not being taught
Have programs to address Anti-Semitism in public schools.
Have programming at MHJC to prepare students about to go to college, as well as college students and their parents with respect to combating Anti-Semitism, BDS, etc.
Our next meeting is February 5 at 8:30 PM, please join us.
If you missed the march across the Brooklyn Bridge, then please join in with thousands of Jews from Long Island that are going to rally in Mineola on Sunday at 3 PM.
The idealism is inside of you, take some action today.
Shabbat Shalom,
R’ Neil

Manetto Hill Jewish Center
244 Manetto Hill Road, Plainview, NY 11803
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