In every generation there are those that will rise against us. - from the Haggadah for Passover
Anti-Semitism is rearing its ugly head. On my desk right now are two newly published books devoted to the anti-Semitism of the moment. I got them at a recent panel on Anti-Semitism sponsored by the William S. Boyd School of Law at UNLV and the Nevada System of Higher Education. In the ten years I have been in Las Vegas I don't recall a single lecture, event, talk or program devoted specifically to anti-Semitism. In just the past couple months there was a town hall meeting at Temple Beth Sholom featuring Dr. Brend Wollschlaeger, the panel at UNLV hosted by Senator Harry Reid featuring Professor Deborah Lipstadt and journalist Jonathan Weisman, and a round table discussion on anti-Semitism hosted by Senator Jacky Rosen. Today the ADL posted their annual report on anti-Semitism in the United States and it paints a very bleak picture, over 1,879 confirmed incidents.
But there is something different about the anti-Semitism we are experiencing today. It is more open and socially acceptable than I have ever seen in my lifetime. It is coming from everywhere. People and groups that we once thought were allies are suddenly tweeting foul anti-Semitic tropes. Leaders that we expect to stand up to this kind of hatred are failing us. Even the New York Times joined the fray this week when they published a Nazi-era like cartoon in their international addition featuring President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu.
All of this came to a head this past weekend as we celebrated Shabbat and the end of Passover. Suddenly rhetoric turned to violence. One life was lost and so many others shattered physically and emotionally. Once again a man filled with hate and malice destroyed the sanctity of worship. He was not mentally ill and he was not a lone-wolf. As Debra Lipstadt tweeted, "Do not think of the murderers in Charleston, Pittsburgh, Christchurch, San Diego (#Poway) as lone wolves. They are inspired by the same white supremacist antisemitic (sic) websites."
Many of us find ourselves overwhelmed with a sense of sadness, loss, and fear. But know we are not alone. We are here for each other. We support each other and protect each other.
What should we do? What can we do?
First, we need to call out anti-Semitism on the right and on the left. We need to stop making excuses for those who we once thought were partners. We need to educate the public about what we believe to be real anti-Semitism. Do not be afraid to confront those who are sharing what they believe to be simple honest opinions, free speech. We need to write to our senators and representatives and get them to condemn the anti-Semitism even in their own parties.
But that is not all. Just like six months ago when the massacre took place at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, we need to show the world that we are not afraid. They will not scare us away from our houses of study, worship, and fellowship.
From everything I have read about her, Lori Gilbert-Kaye was a pillar in her community. She loved going to shul, praying and studying about her faith and culture. If we want some good to come from her death, we should find ways to honor her memory doing the things she loved.
Rabbi Yosel Goldstein, the rabbi who had several fingers shot off during the melee, has called for this Shabbat to be #ShareShabbat. He is calling on us to attend shul this weekend in Lori's memory and in solidarity with Jews around the world. He is calling on us to refuse to give in to the hate. He said, "With Lori's passing, the world became darker. We will respond by adding in light."
We hope you can join us in bringing more light into the world this weekend when we take a moment to remember Lori.
Time after time, what has helped us overcome adversity is community. The strength of the Jewish community has kept us going throughout our sometimes tragic history. It is community that will help us today.
Services Friday night are at 7:30 PM and Shabbat morning at 9:00 AM.
May God comfort those whose lives were shattered this weekend and may God give us the strength to persevere and grow.
Rabbi Bradley Tecktiel has been Midbar Kodesh Temple's spiritual leader since August 2008. Rabbi Tecktiel was ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in May of 1996. He holds two Bachelor of Arts degrees, one from List College and one from Columbia University. He also holds a Masters of Arts from the Jewish Theological Seminary.
You can follow him on Twitter @RabbiMKT.