Was the attack in Monsey, NY, on December 29, 2019, an anti-Semitic attack? How about the increasingly frequent attacks on Hasidic Jews, as happened recently in Jersey City or the numerous incidents that are taking place in Borough Park, NY, or the shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh in October 2018, or the synagogue attack in Poway, California in April 2019? The answer is both yes and no.
Yes, these are anti-Semitic attacks because the victims are easily identified as Jews and the words shouted and backgrounds of the attackers reveal that they chose their victims for this very reason. So why do I say that the answer is also no? That is what I intend explaining in this Musing. This is a difficult piece for me to write. There is absolutely no way in which I can treat the topic comprehensively. Furthermore, there are many ways in which my words could inadvertently hurt. I intend this, ideally, as a starting point for discussion rather than a finished piece. I am writing it because America is in crisis. If the American experiment fails, Jews around the world will be among those who will suffer, but in no way will they be the only casualties. My hope is that my words—and those my husband added while editing—might clarify the struggle.
Anti-Semitism—which I’m defining as singling out Jewish people for hatred— has existed since at least the generation of Jacob and Esau. Jacob received the covenantal blessing and continued the spiritual line of Abraham and Isaac. His brother Esau and Esau’s descendants, especially grandson Amalek, swore enmity to their cousins. One of the reasons that anti-Semitism is such a phenomenon is because the Jewish people are eternal. Other people and nations eventually exit the stage of world history, but the Jews endure. We also spread out around the world as prophesied in Genesis 28:14. This means that Jews constantly maintain their presence as targets of hatred, year after year, decade after decade, century after century and millennia after millennia. Amalek too has a spiritual component, but this destructive identity rests on different people and different nations at different times.
This spiritual dimension does not in any way legitimize the hatred, however, it does point to the fact that there is an unnatural and spiritual makeup both to the survival of the Jewish family and to the hatred of it. Any analysis of anti-Semitism that does not take this spiritual component into account is going to be lacking. For example, the great historian Paul Johnson wrote an excellent piece about anti-Semitism in 2005, yet he neglected the spiritual underpinnings. He recognizes that the hatred is irrational saying, “I would call it [anti-Semitism] an intellectual disease, a disease of the mind, extremely infectious and massively destructive. It is a disease to which both human individuals and entire human societies are prone.” Understandably, as a historian, he didn’t discuss God’s unique relationship with the Jews and how this affects anti-Semitism as well.
However, many open-minded students of history would conclude that God has a covenant with the Jews and that because of that covenant no matter how many are murdered, as a people we do and will survive. That covenant also means that God holds us to a strict standard and, as He promises and warns in Leviticus 26, how we behave results in things going well for us or in great tragedies befalling us. Is this blaming the victim? No, it is reality. Often the victim is indeed complicit in his own misfortune.
As Mr. Johnson articulates, nations that succumb to the hysteria of anti-Semitism end up being diminished themselves. Whether we consider ancient Egypt or Rome or whether we talk of Spain in the late 1400s or Stalinist Russia or Nazi Germany or Islamic countries today, God does, to paraphrase Genesis 12, curse those who curse his people. When God wishes to punish his children, He doesn’t need anyone’s assistance. Those eager to kill Jews who rush in saying, “Me, me, I’ll wield the sword,” and volunteer to be the instrument of punishment end up suffering even to the point of disappearing.
However, this does not let the Jews off the hook either. If we were faithful to God, no person or nation on earth could or would touch us. However, this refers to the people as a whole, not to individuals. In most generations, a minority is faithful while many more fail in that task or even actively rebel. We had to wander in the desert for forty years so a generation could die out before entering the land of Israel under Joshua’s leadership! The rejection of God’s will featured throughout the book of Judges did not cease when Biblical times passed.
Much ink has been spilled in trying to define who is a Jew. Are we a genetic group, a nation, an ethnicity, a religion? The baffling answer is all of those and also none of the above. The best I can offer is that there is a spiritual link marking those whose ancestors stood at the foot of Mt. Sinai (and ancient Jewish wisdom tells us that the ancestors of all converts to Judaism were there as well) that is incredibly difficult to shatter.
Nazi Germany declared that having one Jewish grandparent made you eligible for extermination. Were you raised as a Christian with Christian parents? That was irrelevant. Yet it touched a truth. People consider themselves Jews and are considered by others to be Jews no matter what their beliefs or whether there is any relationship between them and the Torah or the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Sometimes, the only relationship there is goes back generations or it is one of brazenly rejecting God’s presence in their lives. Other times there is intense fealty to one portion of God’s message but a spurning of the whole picture. Whether one is ignoring the guiding principles governing the relationship between man and God or man and his fellow man, this picking and choosing doesn’t end well.
Jews are meant to be a light unto the nations and they were given powerful tools with which to influence the world. Here is the catch: those tools can be misused to influence the world in the wrong direction as well. Let me offer an example my husband uses based on an idea taught to him by his uncle, one of the 20th century’s prominent rabbis. Someone riding a bicycle can stumble and fall. He will harm himself but no others. Most often, the damage to his body will be minor. That same individual who has an accident in a car can be more severely injured and can also injure others. He can go further and more comfortably than on a bicycle, but the downside is more serious as well. What happens if we now envision the individual piloting a commercial plane? He can transport himself and hundreds of others to locations thousands of miles away quickly and comfortably. Yet, an accident is likely to cause the death of everyone on board. In the same way, fire is a powerful force for good as well as for destruction and nuclear power can do both more good and more harm than fire can. Jews are the nuclear power of the world, both for good and for bad. As a group Jews are intensely involved in the entire mosaic of both human greatness and human failing.
The United States of America is a unique and amazing country for reasons that do not belong in this essay. One of the reasons it has achieved such greatness and has been such a blessing to the world is the safe haven and many opportunities it has offered its Jewish population. Yet those same Jews that have helped propel the country to greatness also have among their number those who have been encouraging secular socialistic policies that, if unchecked, will destroy America. Jews have been both a light to the nation and a heart of darkness. That is how spiritual reality works: it is a powerful tool for good and a powerful tool for bad.
People as disparate at President John Adams and historian Thomas Cahill recognized that ideas that civilized people share such as the value of each and every human life, justice that neither tilts toward or against the rich or the poor, and the importance of education entered mainstream thought through God’s chosen people. As a vessel for God’s wisdom, the Jewish people are invaluable. Yet, individuals are as human as members of all other groups. It would be nice, but completely unrealistic to assume that external religiosity is a foolproof indicator of goodness, but it isn’t. Many of those Jews who contributed great scientific, economic and social gains were a generation or two removed from Torah observance. There is no Moses or prophet available today to vet our thoughts and actions telling us if we are on the right track or heading for doom. But, we all can and must do our best to measure ideas against an unchanging moral code and beware of those who seek to replace God’s vision with their own.
When anti-Semitism is unleashed, those most easily identifiable as Jews often suffer the most. As an example, Leon Trotsky was one of many Jews in his generation who abandoned the faith of his fathers, embracing Bolshevik atheism in the early 20th century. As part of this rejection of his religious heritage, he changed his name from the Jewish-sounding Bronstein to Trotsky. His motivation may well have been a belief that religion, economic differences and nationalities separated people and were obstacles to a utopian society. Even the best motivation does not shield anyone from horrific unintended consequences. The Russian revolution he helped foment did not lead to peace on earth as promised and, in fact, it led to tremendous persecution against the Jews and the deaths of innocent millions. A story relates that when the chief Rabbi of Moscow, Rabbi Jacob Maze, appealed to Trotsky to speak out against that anti-Semitism (and was rebuffed), the rabbi said, “Trotsky makes the revolutions and the Bronsteins pay the bills.” In other words, Jews who revolt against God and His Torah initiate actions that result in tragedies for the Jewish people. When that happens, those most recognizable as Jews are often the first to pay the price. For this reason, Hasidic Jews (often mistakenly referred to in the press as “ultra-Orthodox) and a Reform Temple in Pittsburgh are both targets.
However, I think it is a dangerous mistake to fixate on these attacks as anti-Semitic. Doing so suggests that they should be dealt with in isolation from similarly deadly attacks on churches, on concert-goers in Las Vegas, attacks on white people by black hooligans or on colored individuals by neo-Nazis, or on Amish schoolchildren or first-graders in a public school.
It is long overdue that we Jews stop viewing ourselves in an isolated way as victims in America. A Barnard College student was murdered by vicious thugs in Manhattan just at the time of the Jersey City massacre. A Texas church was shot up at the same time as the recent Monsey attack. It is not as if every non-Jewish citizen is living in a cloistered cocoon of tranquility, and only we Jews suffer.
Liberalism, promoted, encouraged, and financed by too many Jews for the past fifty years has, over the years morphed into Leftism. The overwhelming majority of individuals supporting those ideas did so with benevolent motivation and the desire to help make a better society. Yet, taken to excess, as it has been, this has largely been responsible for the collapse of civilized conduct on the streets of American cities. Today, the more Leftist a city and the more secular, the more anti-Biblical behavior is tolerated including assault and murder. Cities such as Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle do not even take sensible precautions to prevent human excrement on the sidewalks.
It is not hard to see that there are more acts of violent anti-Semitism and violence in general in New York and Chicago than in Dallas and Salt Lake City, cities in which the restraints of religion still exert cultural sway and where liberal Democrat ideas have not been in charge for over more than four decades. The far-Leftists (including both non-Jews and Jews) increasingly in control of the Democratic Party even shamefully refuse to condemn the openly anti-Semitic members in their ranks. As ancient Jewish wisdom predicts, those who show kindness without the balancing arm of firmness and rules as instructed by God, end up inflicting cruelty. Over many years, Jews and non-Jews whose values have been sculpted by secular fundamentalism blame all manner of causes rather than taking an honest look at the failures of the policies they supported that have led to suffering for so many.
Jews who do strive to follow Torah rules are not guiltless either. Too many have assumed that as long as they have their own schools and communities, the precipitous decline in civilization didn’t really impact them. This latter group needs to join the general outrage at the collapse of the culture which has been going on for half a century rather than maintaining a parochial focus on anti-Semitism. Yes, there are very disturbing attacks on Jews and Jewish institutions, but to pretend that the mind-addled predators that attacked Jersey City or the mad Monsey murderer are avid followers of the rabid writings of Joseph Goebbels is to miss the point.
As difficult as it is to understand or accept, many of those who led and participated in torturing and murdering Jews under the Nazi regime were decent husbands, fathers, professionals and members of their community. That is not so for today’s anti-Semites. It’s not as if absent their Jew-hatred, the attackers in Pittsburgh, Monsey or Jersey City were model citizens. At the present time, Jews are collateral damage rather than the bullseye of the target in the collapse of American civilization at the hands of secular Leftism.
If you wake up one morning to find that the food in your fridge is spoiled, the lights won’t go on and your house is freezing, it would be a futile mistake to call a refrigerator repairman, an electrician and a heating company. You might look around and see that your neighbors are having the same difficulties as you are. The problem isn’t personal but a massive breakdown of your city’s electric grid. Expending money and effort on the symptoms isn’t going to solve the problem.
America has a systemic problem. About half its populace rejects the Judeo-Christian values and founding principles on which the nation was built. Effort expended on dealing with the symptoms, among them anti-Semitism, rather than on recognizing the source of the problem may serve as a band-aid but will not be effective on a large scale.
Did the attacks in Monsey or in Borough Park or Pittsburgh target Jews? Yes. Are proclamations against anti-Semitism, the dangerous focus on hate crimes, getting increased funding for security or political posturing the answer? None of these popular prescriptions are solutions to the problem.
What can we do? Certainly, prayer and repentance are elements, but action is necessary as well. Each American needs to take a stand in today’s world. To do so, we need to be informed and being informed today means searching for information as the media is untrustworthy.
In 1999, my husband and I wrote a book, America’s Real War: An Orthodox Rabbi Insists that Judeo-Christian Values Are Vital for Our Nation’s Survival. It was a best-seller and stirred great response, both positive and hateful. The American Alliance of Jews and Christians is one of the outgrowths of the book as it argued that Jews and Christians must come together, not theologically, but politically. It attempted to answer the question of why Jews were so liberal when so many liberal policies were either in rejection of God or with complete unawareness of the reality of unintended consequences. The book pre-dated 9/11 and so many other historic changes in the world. It is time to bring it up to date so it may serve as a tool in today’s battles.
We are considering a 15-week-series discussing and updating the book as well as joining together to find solutions to today’s problems. Make sure you are on our mailing list so that you will hear as details become available. Head to Friends of Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin on Facebook, comment on this Musing or shoot an email to email@example.com to let us know of your interest.
52 thoughts on “Worry Less About anti-Semitism”
I agree with you 100%, but as a non-Jew I would be labeled an antisemite for repeating your words. You should also have gone into detail about the Haskalah, the crimes of the American Jewish mafia, and Jewish secular religions.
That is precisely what we were writing about. Your terms “Jewish mafia” is undefined and is not a known term with known meaning and “Jewish secular religions” is a contradiction in terms. Not sure what you mean by that. There is no such thing as secular Jewish religions.
Dear Susan and Rabbi Daniel Lapin,
I very much appreciate how you took on this difficult and elusive topic. Antisemitism is/has been a scourge upon Jews for generations. Just how to define its dimensions throughout history is a task many consider unattainable. Hatred of Jews, particularly as expressed and dispersed by Catholics for century upon century (note: I was raised a Catholic), has been a stain on Christianity. It is truly despicable that individuals who supposedly considered themselves “religious” or “serving G-d’s will” could carry out horrible acts of violence and atrocities against a people (i.e. Jews) simply due to their distinct faith and way of life. Charges of “deicide” and demonization of Jews (and now the state of Israel and “Zionists”) cause untold harm to nations across the globe. Those who promote antisemitism/ Jew-hatred lead their societies toward a profane reality devoid of true virtue and/or holiness- in other words, a deep separation from our Creator.
I, fortunately, have been touched by Jewish individuals, Judaism and Israel. I applaud your efforts to build understanding between Christians and Jews and to work to build a practical alliance which can seek unity and real change. May the Holy One, Blessed be He, pave your way with good fortune and success.
Thank you for your articulate words, Donald. There is a certainly a stain on church history, yet today, it is the conservative wings of most denominations that love Israel and are philo-Semitic while the “progressive” wings are often filled with hate. It is important to know history, but it is also important to recognize what is different today from yesterday.
Having picked my jaw up off the ground after having my brain blown back by your gifted piece, I am now able to formulate a few words……..whew….. Just…wow…and thank you.
Thank you, Dee.
Sorry to comment again , but reading the last answer you had to Susan Jan 4 , made me wonder if many Jews see Christians as a threat ? it is sad and ignorance of the Bible that so called Christians attacked Jews in the name of religion ….I realize you aren’t a Christian and not familiar with the New Testament but it says that the Jewish nation will survive and that God came to the Jews first and then the rest of us .,that the Christians are grafted into the vine of Gods family Israel , but that if we think we are better than Israel God will prune us out . Christians who read their Bible should know this . We sing about Israel in our Christmas song.
Karen, there is no such thing as commenting too much as long as what you say is worthwhile. You are raising an important point and one which my husband and I dealt with in our book, America’s Real War, that we are hoping to update. This is going to be a very incomplete answer, but I’ll give it a shot. Jews come from many different countries. Those who were expelled from Arab countries such as Egypt, Syria or Lebanon have more knowledge and understanding of Moslem culture. On the other front, many of those who are now in America but whose parents came from European countries in the last century, have personal family stories of pogroms and persecution from Christians. (And, of course, those from the former USSR have stories of persecution by an atheistic regime.) Going back centuries, the pogroms were often initiated in the Catholic churches, much as some of today’s Imams do in the mosques. Easter Sunday was a scary day to be in Jew in many European countries in many years.
One of the things we discuss in the book is how different the United States of America was from its colonial days. Things weren’t perfect, but it was deliberately worlds away from how they were in Europe. However, many American Jews retained that emotional fear of Christianity and did not have an accurate historical picture of either Europe or America. It’s a long discussion.
Thank you for the time to answer this ….. Just WOW. I had no idea , looking forward to the updated book.
I found your article very insightful, but as a non-Orthodox, conservative Jew, I take issue with a couple of your basic premises. False narrative #1: Jews are “eternal”. Somehow, because we are in G-d’s good graces, we are exempt from extinction. Let’s ask the Jews in Egypt, Russia, and most of Eastern Europe and South America about that- oh yea, there isn’t anybody left to ask. False narrative #2: “The overwhelming majority of individuals supporting those ideas did so with benevolent motivation and the desire to help make a better society.” I strongly disagree. Jews fight for assimilation, period. The Progressive Jewish fight for secularism has never been about creating a more enlightened America. Its all about de-Christianizing this country. Their bloody global history of anti-Semitism long been a perceived threat to American Judaism. In the USA, we have an enormous presence in media, entertainment, academia, the economy, science and government. While I agree that we must do everything possible to extinguish this current rash of hatred toward our people, we need to be more honest in our approach. Poorly conceived premises tend to have unintended consequences.
Hi Susan, I’m trying to understand what you are writing but I’m a bit confused.
1. I didn’t say that millions of Jews have not been massacred. They have. They have also been chased out of many countries. However, the Jewish people still survive and I believe always will.
2. I think I am hearing you being more severe than I am on our brethren. To my dismay, I think many thought that they could create a safe environment by making the U.S.A. less Christian and God-centered. That was a tragic mistake and I think it is fueling most of today’s anti-Semitism. However, I think most lay people felt, however incorrectly, that erasing distinctions and promoting minorities would lead to a better society. The result has been greater Balkanization of the country, more hatred and a society in danger of failing.
Perhaps I am misunderstanding you.
Wow. If your aim was to begin a discussion, you succeeded! I have one going on in my mind right this minute – totally compelling. How will I put my grocery list together and get out the door now?? I think Kroger will be more crowded than I’d like it to be by the time I get there. 🙂
I have known instinctively that the violence by individuals exerted upon Jewish people and upon synagogues, etc, and the antisemitism in our institutions (and in the minds of those participating in them) were only loosely related. The people carrying out violent attacks have no power but their physical violence, whereas Antisemites in government, media, and academia wield tremendous power, which I don’t need to describe (as you and Rabbi already do so.)
The violent ones act out for peculiar reasons of their own. They could “just as easily” hate somebody else, but something has come along to twist their minds in this particular direction.
It occurs to me just this morning that they serve as a shiny object for all of us to focus on, while actual antisemitism rolls along, gaining strength, disguised and undefined.
Like so many other very ugly things, and many many that are beautiful, if this doesn’t have a spiritual explanation, there is no explanation.
Bless you both and all that you set your hand to do. I know that by the time you read this, you will have had much love and shalom in your Shabbat, so I wish you and Rabbi a wonderful week ahead.
We had a lovely Shabbat, Susan. Thank you. I think it important that everyone recognize that Jews can be anti-Semitic much in the same way that Blacks can be racist. There are an awful lot of people of Jewish descent I would love to see be much less influential than they are, though not by wishing any harm on them. I just wish all citizens could be more discerning and wiser in the paths they follow.
Thank you Susan and Rabbi for this information. I am so glad you are pushing back at the evil hatred toward the God of the Bible! It is about time that some people take a stance against the atheism that has pervaded our world! If people could realize that they are better off following the God of the Bible, change can happen. God is in control and I try my best to be a happy warrior. Count me in!
Thanks for joining the ranks, Terry.
Thank you for writing this , and I want to read the updated book …I have been thinking on these things , and because our Christian Bible study also reads the Old Testament I understand much of what you are mentioning…Last year a member of our family sent me some videos across messenger which were VERY anti Semitic , I pointed out to him that as a black man he is perpetuating the same racial smears that he accuses white society of doing to him . He did not see it that way . It concerns me about the
making so very much of differences in race , religion, beliefs , sex , money , education , back when the society was generally Judaeo/Christian it was more of a case of trying to bringing people together without looking for differences , now it is ALL about differences . A nation divided will not stand.
Karen, the majority of the attacks in New York are by criminals in the Black community. Democrats, including Jewish ones, are caught in a vise. They have to pretend to care for both groups while not admitting that their policies have provoked and aided the enmity and continue to do so.
Thank you for all the resources and newsletters. I appreciate your shared insights from you both. I have read your book and am looking forward to the updated version. I’m a Christian married to a reformed Jew. I have been trying to get him to see the antisemitism that has been ramping up. Being able to share the enlightenment I receive from “my” rabbi is truly a blessing and is helping him with his faith.
We will be laying out a plan for the new book on an Facebook Live group on Tuesday night at 8 P.M., Valerie. Hope you can either join us or listen to the recording.
Dear Susan and Rabbi Lapin,
Finally, someone has the fortitude to begin the conversation that we as a nation have a problem. You, Dennis Prager, and others will, hopefully, make an impact beyond just your mailing list.
I admire so much of what Dennis writes, that I often archive his articles for my own benefit. This article of your has now joined in those ranks.
Your “America’s Real War” needs to be required reading of EVERYONE throughout the “educational” system. G-d bless you both, and Shabbat Shalom.
Edward, there are many having this conversation. It needs to reach a critical mass. We hope we can help with that.
Wow Susan! This is powerful. So much to chew on – the power outage alone has me lost in thought! Would love this update on the book too! Count me in! Is! That! Enough! Exclamation! Points?!!!
So glad to hear you’re in, Martha! Please share the Musing on FB.
Yay, Susan! “America has a systemic problem”. Most people (understandably) don’t know how to “think systems”, which is by definition complex. You (with Rabbi fingerprints all over!) have managed to cast light into the dark corners. You give us a great starting point for exploring for answers in all directions. In creating the universe, God gave us free will, which necessitates a neutral environment in which it could operate. That does lead to “interesting times”, but the Captain is still on the bridge. Thanks for reminding us in your way of that truth.
This is perhaps the most accurate and boldest piece I’ve read in a very long time. I couldn’t possibly sum up its impact on me, and space does not allow for me to comment on your many insights. I’m going to need to look at it more over Shabbos. Thank you is all I can say.
— Hope (Tikvah Chava) In Massachusetts
Excellent and thoughtful Commentary Mrs. Lappin. I suspect the election of the Tumpster may have been due not only to his courage (the rarest of virtues) but also perhaps due to the hand of providence (as the founding dad’s used to say). The election of Hillary would have sealed our fate and we would have been doomed as a nation. I recall Dennis Prager often saying, “Those that are kind to the cruel are cruel to the kind”. An example would be Obama’s appeasement to the Islamo-nazis in Iran. I often point out to people what David Horwitz has said, “Leftism is a crypto-religion” (hidden). I suspect we need to understand Leftism (the democrat party) isn’t just wrong, but evil. Compromise is not an option, we must defeat them. Also, I’d like to suggest everyone check out the brilliant scholar Diana West. I recently discovered her and have been watching her speeches and interviews of youtube. Check her out and I bet you’ll be as impressed with her research as I was (using Soviet archives).Y
Dennis was citing exactly the same sentence in ancient Jewish wisdom that I referenced, Ty. David Horowitz was an important person in my husband and my life as his time in our synagogue made us aware of what was going on in America.
An insightful, informative, and thought provoking essay. Thank you.
Susan your words echo the brilliant insight offer by Eric Hoffer in his 1955 must read classic “The True Believer”. In it he offers the following, “hatred is the most accessible and comprehensive of all the unifying agents. Mass movements can rise and spread without a belief in a god, but never without a belief in a devil”. We must stop the belief that all mankind is good at there core. From the time of Adam and Eve history disproves this falsehood. I believe we are either beacons of the Divine Light of G-d Or source of darkness. This is the essence of our free will.
I’ve read that a rise in anti-Semitic attacks (in both Europe and the U.S.) is like the “canary in the coal mine” as Jews have been used as scapegoats throughout history. It’s evil and Satan is behind this hatred.
Susan, I think that in the United States Christians were the canary in the coal mine. The anti-Christiansim in America especially in the 90s was part of what led to the writing of America’s Real War. We were shouting that the Jewish community needed to pay attention and protest. Some did – Dennis Prager and Michael Medved notably – but most of the Jewish community either were active participants supporting anti-Christian feeling or, more frequently, chose to be completely unaware as it didn’t personally affect them.
There are many reasons for hatred and some of these individuals that act out with violence are simply not hitting on all 8 or they are on some sort of drugs. They also may belong to a hate group. Whatever the reason, last week we saw the machete attack at the Rabbi’s party. 100 guests, 5 hacked up.
Gruesom! Then we had the Freeway Church in Ft. Worth. Same sick perp but the situation was contained in 6 seconds by the church security detail. Jews and Christians are targets. How do we stop this? First of all Jews need to abandon the gun control schemes. Endless laws will not disarm individuals or groups with intent. Jews need to stop politically supporting lefties who want our guns. This actually creates anti-Semitism with people who have no other issues with jews. Every Jew in the United States has a natural Constitutionally protected right to self defense. It is not up to police of government to protect our family or place of worship. JFPO is a pro-gun political action organization. Every Jew needs to become a member. Every Jewish family in the USA needs to own a handgun, AR-15 and a tactical shotgun. All family members need to get training from a qualified NRA instructor, children too and be proficient with range time. There should be no fear or apprehension around family firearms. If you are in a concealed carry state, get the permit and carry whenever you are away from home. All community activity needs to have a security detail. We cannot depend on police. The attacks will continue and increase in frequency as long as Jews are soft targets. Do you know why no US airliner has been hijacked since 911? Because we armed the pilots! Airliners are no longer a soft target. Out of 100 people at the party not a single person had a gun. I hope you get my point here. Ignore what I say and you are simply a victim!
A very informative, thoughtful, and insightful article. I look forward to your 15 week series.
As a Jew, it is easy to be afraid as are many of my friends. Your expressed alternative to fear is an encouraging alternative to mindless fear and pessimism. This is constructive. I will read this a few more times to fully digest. Thank you, Susan, for expressing truths that many will not. I pray the ears and hearts of our people will be open to this message.
Susan and Rabbi Lapin
Thank you for a very insightful piece of writing – I too will have to re-read to get it all.
I do have one comment. In arguing with my legal friends I have made the point that in the OT (I am a Christian) God does not support the impartiality of the law (small ‘l’) but that the judges were commanded to act in favour of the poor and disadvantaged. Firstly, am I correct in my understanding and secondly, do you have any advice as to how this might work out in a just society. Myself, I am sure that the answer is not the ideas of the liberal left
John, it’s Friday – I’m in the kitchen today. But you are not correct in your understanding. I hope my husband will step in, but if not I will try to come back after Shabbat.
Thanks for writing and your question deserves an answer. No, the OT, the Torah, is unambiguous about judges acting with complete impartiality and it absolutely prohibits any favoring of the poor, as well as the rich. It recognizes the evil temptation in good people to favor the poor and does not allow that.
Hope this helps.
Rabbi, did you teach high school in the LA area in the 1970s?
I taught mathematics and talmud for 12th grade at a Jewish high school in the Valley for one year in 1976/1977.
Amen, Shira. Shabbat Shalom.
Judiasm and Catholicism have had parallel trajectories for quite some time, Susan. Thank you for the historical perspective of the Jewish people’s early journey. It frustrates me no end that Holy Mother Church has failed to catechize her flock in a manner that would help them defend their faith against the slings and arrows increasingly directed at the tenets of our faith much like what you experience in your synagogues. May God’s blessing be upon us this new year.
This was a hard hitting, and brave piece to write.
I was curious about the point in the book ….”argued that Jews and Christians must come together, not theologically, but politically”.
How do we not yoke together through both ways? The left has already proven that coming together just politically produces bad fruit. Really bad fruit.
It seems the theological has more weight when changing the culture, and then the political grows out of the ground.
But then…. I probably need to read the book.
Vienna, what we are saying is that Judaism and Christianity are two different religions with different theologies. Latter Day Saints, Catholics, and Protestants also have different theologies. We don’t want to discuss theology. Many of us share 95% of the same ethics and morals and our vision for what the country should look like. We can be very powerful working together.
Bless You Susan. You are One Smart Lady; lovely too.
A powerful Musing, definitely a starting point of discussion. Thank you.
I live in a peaceful corner of our city, in a very conservative state of the USA, where it is not hard to ignore leftist propaganda and shenanigans. I probably need to stretch my horizons a bit. Think I’ll start by checking back here for the discussion to come, find the 1999 “America’s Real War”, and keep an eye on your page (FB not totally without value!).
Lyna, we do have a mixed relationship with FB. Yes, even if you live in a conservative state it’s very important to be active. Safe places very quickly can turn into something else and we cannot at all be complacent that the next generation will value what you value.
Hi, After reading your thoughts about Anti-Semitism, and how it affects us all, I am going to read your books.
Always glad to gain a reader, Fred.
“As ancient Jewish wisdom predicts, those who show kindness without the balancing arm of firmness and rules as instructed by God, end up inflicting cruelty.”
Mrs. Lapin, I wonder if some time you and/or your husband would expand on this statement. It seems contradictory, but yet it plays out again and again. Thank you for this thoughtful article.
Kristyn, you can see it on the intimate scale with children. If you allow your child to do what he wants, whenever he wants because you don’t want to discipline him, he will not turn out happy or healthy. You are being cruel by not acting as a parent. Society has changed so many rules out of sympathy. For example, single teenage mothers. Giving them money and day care in high school. It is kind to the girl and if she is a complete outlier it might be understood. But doing so ends up encouraging more teenage single motherhood which is not the best environment for children or for society. Do these examples make sense?
Another example of this close-to-home idea are state directed policies. Our state has had constitutional amendments twice now in 10 years to make changes to its state “Constitution.” My family and I cringed when so many of the proposals won, and they won with so-called “conservative” backing.
Here are two such examples: Widows (many are young mothers) and widowers who have had a spouse die while serving in the US military now have the “constitutional” right to not pay taxes on property they owned with their spouse. This encourages single parenthood and shack-ups to the single parent sadly. This was not a good amendment to make. Another one recently passed giving, under many circumstances, state and local funded security pets the right to remain in the care of their assignee. Security personnel used to pay a fee if they wanted to retain the animal put under their charge, now it’s free to them courtesy tax-payers.
This is the kind of emotional dumbness and numbness we encounter when it comes to changing law! I digress, thankfully, I’m not the only person who thinks this way but I sure do hope that we can coordinate more like minded individuals and seek to nullify these laws in the next round of amendments.
Society is not better off with more law. It’s fundamentally better off with simple laws and simple punishments for law breakers. Again, I digress.
Susan, this beginning discussion is brilliant and I have distilled an excellent point in it all:
“America has a systemic problem. About half its populace rejects the Judeo-Christian values and founding principles on which the nation was built.
What can we do? Certainly, prayer and repentance are elements, but action is necessary as well. Each American needs to take a stand in today’s world. To do so, we need to be informed and being informed today means searching for information as the media is untrustworthy.”
People do need to be taught right from wrong.
Our public schools appear to be equipped to fail students because many trained teachers are well meaning without critical thinking skills. There is a government monopoly as about 95 percent of schools are government funded schools. This fact will translate into more crime and death in society. People crave spiritual light because our maker made us this way. Good Shabbos!
In my view laws are seldom removed from the legal system, new laws are simply adopted and placed atop old laws complicating the system of law and and subsequent justice.
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