Do not mistake my silence yesterday for indifference. I am as angered, confused, sad, dismayed, and scared as so many others. But yesterday was a Shabbat of so many emotions and not one where I was in a place to put into words what I was feeling about Charlottesville, VA. Shabbat, from right before we lit candles to the end was filled with joyous moment with our congregation as we had a Friday evening like none other, filled with “Wow!” (I’ll have to fill you in with that later); one of blessing a couple celebrating 44 years of marriage; one of studying Torah with an amazing group of learners and teachers; one of celebrating a young man being called to Torah as a Bar Mitzvah; one of celebrating a 70th birthday, (which our Rabbis teach, is the age signifying a full life); and one of comforting the bereaved of two families who lost a loved one as Shabbat was ushered in and a second whose loved one died as the sun began to rise on Shabbat morning. It was a Shabbat of many moments.
During the few moments I had to see the news: the car plowing into a crowd with no regard for life; the crowd carrying torches that evoked memories of 70+ years ago; the reporting of a group of worshippers and clergy whose gathering was to pray for peace but were met with those who came with brass knuckles and the intent to harm; to empty words by the one who is supposed to lead our country but can’t seem to commit to strong enough condemning words and for not wanting to insult some of those who put him in to office, the emotions continued to swirl.
Elie Wiesel taught us and we continue to repeat, “the opposite of love is not hate, it is indifference.” But it’s easy to write and express our thoughts on Facebook, blogs, Twitter and any other social media. And it’s a good start because we cannot be silent and we need to make sure our voices are louder than those who spew hate, masking it as, ‘I’m promoting my race and my culture.’ I want to say, Wake Up! to these people and remind them that there is no place in our country or our world for only one color, one race; one religion, one belief! I want to tell them, look closer at yourselves and you will see, your DNA is mixed with many colors, with many races, there is no “Pure Race” and if you think there should be, that’s going to create a host of other issues in the DNA stream.
So here is where I am, where like so many of us are (well some of you might still be asleep this early morning), I am sitting at my computer writing and sharing my thoughts. I am a swirl of emotions as are many of you. And I am asking the same question many are, what can we do?
First, continue to write, continue to speak; but take the words beyond your own friends or community on social media. Write letters of support to the communities who are directly affected right now. Continue to speak out to Senators, Representatives, all elected officials and remind them that just because the one who sits in the big chair thinks he’s the be all and end all, that they need to take the example of those like Virginia Governor, Terry McAuliffe, and not be afraid to call out a growing group of people who think it’s ok to spew words of hate and racism. Teach our children that just because the one who sits in the big chair thinks its ok to spew hate and incite violence, including provoking our country’s police force to rough up those whom they take into custody, remind our children, this is NOT OK! This is not how we treat others. It is NOT ok!
My emotions are swirling with disbelief that this is 2017 and not 1937! This is not something that is going to just go away if we wait it out, it’s only starting to grow. But maybe we can start something else growing instead. If together we speak out, take action, and teach, maybe, just maybe we can snuff out the torches of hate. It’s not going to be easy and it’s not going to happen overnight, but we have to start somewhere.
Where are you going to start?