Thoughts for our Time – Country in Turmoil
If only “Never Again” could apply to all forms of discrimination.
After suffering from violence and discrimination for what seems like eons, the Jewish people formulated the phrase “Never Again” after the most despicable of all atrocities, the Holocaust. Then, to implement that hope, we created our own country with one of the mightiest armed forces on the planet.
While I’ve only lived during a short window of Black suffering and discrimination in America, I’ve reached my disgust point as well. After so much upheaval and outrage from the deaths of Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin and others in the past few years, I am shocked that our police forces have not embraced the need to treat all suspects, especially African Americans, with prudence and human dignity.
In truth, I shouldn’t be so surprised. While it’s a great rally cry, “Never Again” has yet to be fully achieved. After 72 years of statehood, Hamas and the PLO are still set upon Israel’s destruction, and despite earning so much success and acceptance in the United States, 2019 was the most violent year for Jews in America ever.
White Supremacy and the fear that those in power have of losing their control are the roots behind all forms of Black, Jewish, women, and minority suppression. The road to equality is seemingly endless. “Never Again” is clearly “over the rainbow” but we must keep along this path.
In the famous “March on Washington” in 1963, an immigrant rabbi was invited to speak. Rabbi Joachim Prinz, who had lived in Berlin during the Nazi era, immigrated to America in 1937 and found kinship with Dr. Martin Luther King. Unfortunately, Prinz’s words still ring loudly today:
“When I was the rabbi of the Jewish community in Berlin under the Hitler regime, I learned many things. The most important thing that I learned under those tragic circumstances was that bigotry and hatred are not the most urgent problem. The most urgent, the most disgraceful, the most shameful and the most tragic problem is silence.
A great people who had created a great civilization had become a nation of silent onlookers. They remained silent in the face of hate, in the face of brutality and in the face of mass murder.
America must not become a nation of onlookers. America must not remain silent. Not merely black America, but all of America. It must speak up and act, from the President down to the humblest of us, and not for the sake of the Negro, not for the sake of the black community but for the sake of the image, the idea, and the aspiration of America itself.
Our children, yours and mine in every school across the land, each morning pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States and to the republic for which it stands. They, the children, speak fervently and innocently of this land as the land of “liberty and justice for all.”
The time, I believe, has come to work together – for it is not enough to hope together, and it is not enough to pray together- to work together that this children’s oath, pronounced every morning from Maine to California, from North to South, may become a glorious, unshakeable reality in a morally renewed and united America.”
Join our Israeli and Community affairs team to help decide MHJC’s course of social action. Many of us will be attending a “Say Their Names: a Vigil of Lament” on various Facebook groups this Thursday at 5:30 PM. You can click here
for the link. It will bring you to the JTS Facebook page and there is a button to click if you are interested. As per the information listed, they will be sending out a zoom link on that page.
We can’t remain silent.
In our weekly prayer for America, we ask
Creator of all flesh, bless all the inhabitants of our country with Your spirit. May citizens of all races and creeds forge a common bond in true harmony, to banish hatred and bigotry, and to safeguard the ideals and free institutions that are the pride and glory of our country.
May this land, under Your providence, be an influence for good throughout the world, uniting all people in peace and freedom — helping them to fulfill the vision of Your prophet: “Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they experience war any more”. And let us say: Amen.
We pray for this ideal regularly, but, as Rabbi Prinz says, it’s not enough to pray, we need to take action. As one of our ancient sages, Rabbi Tarfon, once said, “It’s not incumbent upon you to complete the matter, but you are not free to desist from it either.”