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Rabbi's Week in Review - 5/15/2023

05/15/2023 03:56:47 PM

May15

In this, my weekly blog, my thoughts seem to move back and forth between being more positive and inspiring (at least, I hope they inspire) and pointing out injustices in order to fulfill our obligation as Jews to work for a more just community and world. I don’t have it necessarily planned out that way. It is more a reflection of the state of the world in which we need to carve out moments of joy in order to confront the chaos.

When I do go negative, it often comes from events of the week that evoke threat and fear.  Unfortunately, this is one of those weeks. And while my sense of concern extends to many marginalized groups, this past week’s events landed closer to our (Jewish) home. Specifically, there were two events that should be cause for concern.

Last week was the most recent stop on the ReAwaken America tour. Featured prominently on this tour are Hitler apologists — Nazis who unabashedly express their virulent anti-Semitism.  Podcaster Scott McKay expressed the idea that “Hitler was actually fighting the same people that we’re trying to take down today.” He blamed the Jews (us) for 9/11. Commentator Charlie Ward, another featured speaker on the ReAwaken tour, posted a Hitler speech with a caption warning about the ruling class of Judaism, amongst others targeted by his conspiratorial threats.

They both have a long history of anti-Semitism, Holocaust denial and championing Hitler as a brave truth-teller. Awful as they are, my greater concern is with who is hanging out with these purveyors of evil. Michael Flynn, former Trump aide who received a pardon from Trump, is a sponsor and lead speaker on the tour. Last week, this conference was held at the Trump Doral Resort. Scheduled to also speak at the conference were Eric Trump and his wife, Lara Trump.  That people in the Trump orbit feel good about speaking at an event with Hitler-friendly speakers is not normal and should be a source of concern and outrage in our Jewish community.

The other event was the murder of eight people at a shopping mall in Allen, Texas. The murderer had a slew of neo-Nazi messages on his social media and an SS tattoo. We should never be complacent about mass murders under any circumstances, but so much the more so when it is done as some sort of fealty to the Nazi cause.  

As a counter to this movement of white Christian nationalism, organizations that work for justice are making the fight against white Christian nationalism a top priority. Specifically, Christian clergy with whom I have the honor to work are seeking to reclaim a Christian narrative that leads with compassion, inclusion and justice — fighting against a version that teaches hate, division and violence.  

As Jews, we must realize that we are targets of this present wave of white nationalism. The threat is real, and we must voice our concern in clear unambiguous language. After the Shoah, we may have thought it would not happen again in our lifetime. However, when political leaders associate with those who target Jews for all they think is wrong in the country, we cannot ignore the threat.

Mon, July 15 2024 9 Tammuz 5784