A piece of advice I try to take to heart is, “Don’t get furious, get curious.” That is wonderful advice when a parent, spouse, child, or friend disappoints you. If someone breaks into your home and points a gun, curiosity might need to take second place to a different reaction.
Speaking or writing while amid great emotion, including anger, is probably not a great idea. Nonetheless, I am doing so. Last week’s Musing on testing accommodations was written by a previous version of me. I wrote it before October 7, 2023, hoping to publish it on the Thursday of the following week, when we were meant to be traveling around the land of Israel with our children and grandchildren. The pogrom of October 7th changed that schedule and changed my life, along with millions of others. I am heartbroken and mourning, resolute and uplifted—and I am angry.
On April 14, 2014, gunmen kidnapped more than 200 girls from their school in Nigeria. The campaign to free them that followed, with Michelle Obama and other famous people holding placards on social media with the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls may have been puerile and childish (do you really think that terrorists quail in the face of a frowning Michelle Obama) but at least hearts were aching. There were no counter-rallies and selfies supporting the terrorist group, Boko Haram, and encouraging the rape, mutilation, and murder of these girls along with hopes of more to come. Not so after this year’s massacre on October 7th.
When the spies entered the Land of Israel at the end of the Israelites’ forty years in the desert and were helped by Rahav, she extracted a promise of safety for her family in return. They swore to her that if her family sheltered in her home and put a designated sign in the window, they would be safe. But, the spies continued, if they did not follow those instructions, their blood would be on their own heads (Joshua 2:19). Today, there is blood on the heads and hands of so many. The United Nations, the Red Cross, CNN, the New York Times, the BBC, myriad university presidents, individual politicians in scores of countries including the United States of America, multitudes of ignorant and uninformed (or evil—those are the only two choices) young people…the list is pages long.
The blood is not only Jewish blood. Islamic jihadists have murdered thousands of Moslems, Christians, and people of many nationalities and backgrounds. They have unleashed rape and mayhem on streets from France to England to Germany to Sweden. Unless forcefully opposed, they are on the verge of bringing us back to the Dark Ages.
My husband and I have stood with American Christians for decades against the desecration and tearing down of the religious and moral founding of the United States of America. We have spoken and fought against anti-Christianism, while rarely mentioning anti-Semitism. We do think that many Jews who did not join us are reaping what they sowed. But being right and seeing the future more clearly than others gives us no joy; we are all in this together.
On Tuesday, people converged on Washington, D.C. to show support for Israel. The organizers say that over 290,000 people were tracked passing through security checkpoints while many (including our grandchildren) never got close enough to go through a checkpoint. News reports are saying ‘tens of thousands’ – the same news report organizations that kept calling the Million Man March in 1995 by that misnomer even though the U.S. Park Service estimated 400,000. I know which numbers about the November 14, 2023, march I think are closer to the truth.
There was a veneer of politeness at the rally, pretending that both parties in the U.S. Congress stand equally against anti-Semitism and for Israel. I understand the reason for that. With Democrats controlling the White House and the Senate it would be impolitic to mention AOC or Rashida Tlaib or to boo Chuck Schumer when he spoke, no matter how he deserves it for numerous votes of his over the years that have contributed to the downfall of America, and by association, Israel. Mentioning Barack Obama and Joe Biden’s financial support for Iran, the world’s main supporter of terrorism, would have been counterproductive. Yes, I am grateful to President Biden’s support as far as it goes; at the same time, it isn’t going far enough. Fortunately, I wasn’t a speaker at the rally.
I know that I am not writing terribly coherently; as I said, I am angry. We have, in the past, asked you to stand up with us for Christians when they were the one group in America that was allowed to be slandered and insulted. In all honesty, my husband and I have often asked ourselves why Christians were so silent when their fellow Christians were being murdered by Islamists around the world. Thank God, Jews are not being silent now, nor are our Christian allies including heroes like Pastor John Hagee who spoke at the November 14th rally. I am asking you now to stand up for Israel. In doing so, you will also be standing up for America, a nation we may be close to losing. Write a letter, make a phone call, and then do it again…and again…and again.
Earlier this week, an Islamic propaganda film was supposed to be shown at Hunter College in New York and then at Middlebury College in Vermont. They were both overwhelmed by emails and canceled the showings. Here is the letter I sent to the president of Hunter College.
If it is true that Hunter College is screening the film Israelism today, then you are at a unique point in your personal life.
Most of us like to tell ourselves that we would have established stops on the Underground Railroad instead of being slave catchers; we would have been members of the Resistance instead of Nazis; we would have sheltered friends instead of turning them into the KGB or Stasi. But we do not know. Probably most of us would have huddled under the blankets doing nothing and hoping the storm would pass.
Your home is not about to be burnt down, you will not be thrown in jail, your family will not be sent to Siberia if you stand against evil today and refuse to allow this movie to be shown. You will have the answer to what you would have done in different times and places in history and if you make the choice to stand for rather than against humanity, you will be able to look yourself in the mirror.
Here is a letter a friend of mine’s mother-in-law, raised Catholic, sent to her local church when they participated in an anti-Israel event:
My name is Annette Weisberg. I have been a resident of Canada for 54 years, after immigrating from Germany. I am not affiliated with any religion personally, but have always been impressed by the United Church and its policy of acceptance, tolerance and emphasis on Peace. Over the years, I have happily attended many concerts, performances etc. at your church.
However, I was bitterly disappointed and very much offended by last Friday’s totally biased and antisemitic performance by the Bread and Puppets Theater Group from Vermont.
I am deeply distraught by the latest crisis in the Middle East that has been causing so much suffering, death and destruction. I feel for the innocent Israeli victims of Oct.7 killed, mutilated, raped and kidnapped and also for all the innocent civilian victims in Gaza.
However, the totally one-sided Bread and Puppets performance with the repeated accusation of “Israeli Genocide” without ever once criticizing the ruthless attack by the terrorist organization Hamas has deeply upset me. Hamas’ only goal is the total destruction of Israel. They don’t seem to care for their own suffering people, having built their military posts under hospitals, schools and daycare centers. They spend most of the aid money from Germany, for example, intended for education to build tunnels and buy weapons to murder Israelis.
Israel, after the massacre of October 7th, is determined to destroy this terrorist organization; Urban warfare is terrible and all too many innocent victims are being killed in the process to find and eliminate the terrorists, who are really only interested in their own destructive agenda, not in the wellbeing of their own people.
Yes, Israeli bombs are killing innocent people and that is terrible. Yet, how else could the Israeli army find the Hamas terrorists who are purposely hiding behind their own citizens? Israel is certainly not attempting genocide, and would very much prefer just to get to Hamas and not the civilian population.
Hamas has not allowed the Israeli government to supply the hospitals with diesel gas for incubators for premature babies, for example, even though the hospital itself would have accepted it.
I am not a right-wing supporter of Netanyahu by any means. But Hamas’ refusal to return the 240 kidnapped victims- many of them children and elderly people, in exchange for a cease-fire is yet another proof of Hamas’ true agenda.
Shows like the one at your church last Friday only pour oil on the fire of antisemitism. Unfortunately, in this age of Social Media and polarization, it seems that more and more the Left is joining forces with the NeoNazis to blame Israel for a War they did not start. Ironically, I, who have always leaned to the left stand by Israel now without abandoning my wish for eventually peaceful co-existence of Israelis and Palestinians.
I left in the middle of the show when the actors ran around in masks looking exactly like the caricatures of Jews circulated in Nazi Germany.
I do wonder if your congregation and administration actually knew what kind of propaganda performance would appear on their stage, thereby desecrating the Sydenham United Church.
You need to find your own way to speak. Whether by writing a letter, directing your charitable donations, being outspoken at work or with your family — as Irish philosopher Edmund Burke said: “When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall, one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.”
This Musing is dedicated in honor of those who stand for good, among them the fighting forces of the Israeli army.
In memory of Bracha Levinson, age 74, who was murdered on October 7, 2023.
With prayers for the release of Hagar Brodetz and her children Ofri, Yuval and Oriya among all the hostages of November 7, 2023.
And do not say one word to me about a humanitarian crisis in Gaza until the world has put pressure on every Moslem government, mosque, Islamic center, and Moslem to clamor for the release of the hostages.
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The Art of Making Challah
$16.95 On Sale for $12
Thanksgiving is approaching. What a great time of year to up your baking skills and learn how to bake the traditional Sabbath and holiday bread known as Challah! Join Susan Lapin and have some fun as she walks you through each step of the process in this video tutorial (including her favorite recipe).
Read What People Are Saying:
I just took my second batch of challah out of the oven, it came out just as beautiful as the first batch. Thank you so much for sharing your recipe and giving a video tutorial. It makes me feel like I have a friend here in the kitchen with me! – Jen.
How delightful to see this lesson, Susan! I feel like I’ve kept you company in your kitchen, and learned some things including the traditional reason behind the braiding. I loved it! – Deborah L.