Message from Rabbi Brian
As I was thinking about my message for this Shabbat, I was tormented by something. Have we Jews of America been living in a dream for 75 years? A state of self deception, perhaps? Seeing the huge uptick in anti-Israel and anti-Jewish rhetoric reported from all around the country, I’m reminded how 19th century German Jews tried so hard to fit in and to become just as German as their neighbors. They dressed like Germans, held services on Sundays instead of Saturdays.
For them, this period lasted from the late Enlightenment until the early 20th century. For us in America it lasted from the 50s until now. The Jew hatred never really went away, did it? The difference between now and early Nazi Germany is that the Jew hatred is not official government policy, rubberstamped by a complicit judiciary. This is different. The ability of every single human being to have their own giant public megaphone- a soapbox that spreads all over the world, via social media.
There’s a big difference. The antisemitism has gone total mainstream. All of a sudden, we don’t need to fear just organized groups – Oath Keepers and Proud Boys, and local white supremacists in our midst. They have lots of supporters now and not just tacit ones.
I also wanted to talk about Kristallnacht this week. November 9 marks the 85th anniversary of the Kristallnacht pogrom. On November 9, 1938, the Nazi paramilitary forces, along with German civilians, burned and vandalized over 1,400 Jewish homes, businesses, and synagogues. They also murdered 91 Jews and arrested 30,000 Jewish men, sending them to concentration camps. Kristallnacht marked a turning point in the Nazi persecution of the Jews.
This week we also mark 30 days since the horrific Hamas terror attack on Israel, killing 1400 people, mostly civilians, and taking over 240 hostages, among them children, elderly, men and women.
Israel’s subsequent war against Hamas resulted in a wave of severe antisemitism around the world – a sharp rise of over 500% antisemitic attacks on Jews and Jewish communities was reported globally. These waves of antisemitism included physical violence, calls to kill Jews, using Nazi Germany rhetoric, and intimidation of young Jews on campuses and of Jews in the streets. And the murder the other day of an elderly Jew in California at a pro-Israel rally.
This Shabbat – November 11 – is also our day to honor our American veterans. We can never forget the sacrifices they have made for our liberty and freedom.
We pray for the rapid release of the hostages held by Hamas. We pray for the families of the hostages, and those that lost their loved ones in the massacre. We mourn these lost innocent souls.
With prayers for peace and healing,
Rabbi Brian Serle