Posts Tagged ‘Antisemitism’

Classical Reform Jewish theology has no mandate to see the Temple rebuilt because we have no need for the sacrificial cult. For this reason, when I was growing up, our movement rejected mourning the Temple’s destruction.  Frankly, I don’t want to return to animal sacrifice, either.  After all, I do call myself “Almost Rational” not “Wildly Irrational” (although there are plenty of others who could write that blog just fine).

My movement did not gather to pray or to chant the book of Lamentation on Tisha B’Av; we did not even fast. But, I have always approached this powerful day with awe. It is the saddest day on the Jewish calendar, for good reason aside from the temple cult. Sitting on the ground and chanting the book of Lamentations is a transformative experience.

The ninth day of the month of Av commemorates the destruction of both the first and second temples. I don’t care whether both temples were destroyed on the same day. What matters is that the most sacred space in early Judaism was twice destroyed and is now crowned with the Muslim’s Dome of the Rock. The Temple is not my big concern. I care more about the history of Jewish Tragedy. Reform Judaism now cares about Tisha B’Av: because, to us, it represents every tear, in the vast ocean of tears, ever shed by our people. We remember every disaster, calamity, show of hatred, murder, antisemitic act, genocide. and horror . Many horrific events and lamented on the 9th of Av because our people has suffered to a greater extent than nearly any other Western culture.

So, momentarily, let’s set aside 586 BCE and 70 CE and think about the bigger picture..

We find the first event that is supposed to have occurred on the 9th of Av in Numbers 13 – 14. Twelve spies are sent by Moses to reconnoiter the promise land and all but two come back scared as hell.  Only Joshua and Caleb  have faith in Adonai and, lacking faith, an entire generation missed out on the promise land. I’m going to be heretical and say that I won’t believe that story until I see grapes as described therein that are organic and non-GMO (but that’s another story).  I also have no reason to believe that it happened on the 9th of Av. Still, we Jews have no shortage of lamentation worthy historical events!

Here is a partial list of subsequent 9th of Av tragedies:

  • 586 BCE: The First Temple was destroyed by the Babylonians.
  • 70 CE: The Second Temple was destroyed by the Romans.
  • 132 CE: The Bar Kokhba’s rebellion was overturned.
  • 133 CE: Turnus Rufus plowed the site of the Temple and everything surrounding it.
  • 1066 CE: The Granada massacre took place on 30 December 1066 when a Muslim mob stormed the royal palace in Granada. They assassinated the Jewish vizier Joseph ibn Naghrela and massacred most of the Jewish population.
  • 1095 CE: The First Crusade was declared by Pope Urban II in 1095, killing 10,000 Jews in its first month and destroying Jewish communities through Western Europe.
  • 1190 CE: The day that the Jews of York, England were slaughtered
  • 1290 CE: The Jews were expelled from England.
  • 1305 CE: A mass imprisonment of the Jews in France
  • 1492 CE: The Jews were expelled from Spain.
  • 1493 CE: The Jews expelled from Sicily. About 137,000 Jews were exiled.
  • 1496 CE: The Jews expelled from Portugal and from many German cities.
  • 1571 CE: Italy ghettoized the Jews of Florence
  • 1648 CE: The Chmielnicki massacres occurred from in 1648-58. Tens of thousands of Jews were murdered throughout Poland and the Ukraine
  • 1660 CE: The destruction of Safed by the Druze occurred during the rein of sultan Mehmed IV. Both Safed and Tiberias had large Jewish communities that were destroyed entirely,
  • 1670 CE: Austria forced all Jews out of Vienna.
  • 1775 CE: Mob violence against the Jews of Hebron.
  • 881–1884, 1903–1906, and 1918–1920 CE: Three huge series of pogroms resulted in the murder of tens of thousands of Jews in Russia and Ukraine.
  • 1914: World War I began.
  • 1942: On Erev Tisha B’Av the mass deportation of Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto to Treblinka began.
  • 1994: The Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina was bombed on July 18th, killing 85.
  • 2006: The Seattle Jewish Federation shooting occurred on July 28, wounding 6, killing 1
  • 2012: In Toulouse in the month of March 4 Jews were murdered and in Bulgaria, an Israeli tour bus was bombed killing 7 and wounding many more.

So, here’s the deal: Even if you don’t believe that destruction of the Temples, the overthrow of Bar Kokhbah , the Spanish expulsion, and the start of WWI all happened on the same day; even if (like me) you have no desire to pray for a return of the sacrificial cult; there are thousands of years of Jewish tragedies to mourn. Perhaps most important to me is my contention that it is insufficient to mourn the Holocaust only on Yom ha Shoah. That is the most despicable thing to ever happen to Jewish culture and life, the survivors are nearly gone, and time and again people say we put too much emphasis on it. Nonsense. It was not the only, nor the first, nor, sadly, the last of our tragedies. So, if you care about nothing else, use Tisha b’Av to commemorate that.

Lamentations 5:1-3 states:

  • “Remember, O Adonai, what has befallen us; behold and see our disgrace! Our heritage has passed to aliens, our homes to strangers. We have become orphans, fatherless; our mothers are like widows”.

So long as those words ring true to our ears, we must never forget the murder of a single Jewish soul. We owe it to ourselves, our communities, and out heritage to share in the sadness of Tisha B’Av!

This synagogue shooting has been pissing me off more and more as the days go by.

Now, to top it off our President is talking about executive orders to eliminate birthright citizenship. This he does while pretending to console American Jews. At least Hitler was honest about hating us non-Aryans. Trump pretends to give a shit about people who are not white Christians. But, he stands clearly on the side of white supremacy.

This is only minimally about Trump though. It’s really about the people he enables. What is scariest about Donald Trump’s America is not Donald Trump. It is how President Trump has laid bare the evil undercurrent of American White Supremacism and now it’s corollary antisemitism.

I suppose we should thank Trump for exposing what we really are.

But we also need to remember that the evil people are still a minority. It’s not to late to reinvigorate the power of love!

Every year, as Tisha B’Av arrives, I write about all the Jewish tragedies that supposedly occurred in this very day,

Tisha B’Av used to be a time to mourn the destruction of the first, and then second, temple. But, a big problem arose with Reform Judaism because, in our faith, we have no wish to return to the days of ritual sacrifice. We also don’t necessarily believe that there is an actual dude called “the Messiah” so we don’t have a reason to want the temple back.

We believe that, through our actions, we can improve the world to the extent that one day a Messianic age will arrive through our efforts. We need no savior, like Christians do; no singular prophet; and no special guy from the lineage of David. What we DO need it to TAKE RESPONSIBILITY. Each individual is tasked with doing their own little part until one day the sum of those parts is great enough to affect a global culture of holiness, respect, and love.

What we also need is the courage to press on no matter the obstacles. THAT is why I care so much about Tisha B’Av. Irrespective of mourning the Temple, we can use this day to realize that our people have survived countless instances of cruelty and hatred and yet we have remained.

Think about it. In this week’s Torah portion, the first of the book of Deuteronomy, Moses begins the first of his three great “sermons”.  He reminds us, through a perspective that is much more mature in its deutero-retelling than in the original tellings earlier in Torah, of all the things we have been through. He also reminds us of our failures and our lack of courage and persistence. In a rather timely sort of annual occurrence, it is said that one of the things that happened on Tisha B’Av was the failure of the “spies” to come back from reconnoitering the promise land with confidence in our success. Moses not only reminds the people of their lack of faith and their unwillingness to persevere and enter the land but he takes personal responsibility for it by reminding them that G-d is angry with him as well.

What I’m saying here is that, in his well seasoned maturity, Moses takes responsibility even for the things that he himself did not do. The buck stops with Moses. From this we learn that we, as a society, must have the forbearance to take action AND that we, as individuals, must have the integrity to accept responsibility for making those actions work or not work.

So, on this Tisha B’Av I am not suggesting we neglect the temple. Nor am I suggesting that we ignore the crusades, the inquisition, the expulsion from Spain, the expulsion from Portugal, the weak will of 10 out of 12 biblical spies, the mass transport of the Jews of the Warsaw Ghetto to Auschwitz, or anything else that has tragically befallen the Jews throughout history. Rather, I suggest that, as we mourn the myriad terrors, we use that memory to notice that we yet remain a people.

Remember that much of the reason we persist is that we never give up, never give in, never allow humiliation to trump fortitude, and never act with complacency in the hope that all will be fine with a new temple, a Davidic Messiah, a second-coming of Christ, or anything else.

Don’t wait for the end of days to take responsibility for doing your part to bring about the world you hope to someday have.

B’Shalom.

Every year, on this day, I take some time to write my thoughts about the Shoah. Year after year you have seen me refer to the writings of my “guru” Robert Nozick wherein he has said:

I believe that the holocaust is an event like the Fall in the way traditional Christianity conceived it, something that radically and drastically alters the situation and status of humanity.”

Nozick later goes on to say:

“…the Holocaust has created a radically  new situation and status for humanity as a whole, one that the sacrifice of Jesus can not, and was not meant ti heal. The human species is now desanctified; it it were ended or obliterated now, it’s end would no longer constitute a special tragedy.”  

I am certainly unqualified to speak about Christian beliefs; Nozick does so, I think, only as an intellectual exercise. But I do like one of the conclusions he comes to because it speaks to my desire for interfaith dialog. Nozick uses his contention to conclude this:

“The status of the human species can be redeemed, if at all, only through (almost) everyone’s now taking the suffering of others upon themselves”.

In essence, Nozick is saying that after the Holocaust humanity must adopt a post-Christian, post-Jewish, (post-whatever) worldview where we take personal, individual responsibility for the survival of our species. Christianity can’t save us. Judaism can’t save us. Islam can’t save us. Buddhism, Shinto, Hinduism, Mormonism, Scientology, New Age spirituaity, Atheism, NO SINGLE BELIEF SYSTEM CAN SAVE US. Only WE can save ourselves and only if we accept personal responsibility for it. No prophet, no Messiah, no Bodhisattva, no savior, no Mahavatar. JUST US. THAT is my own personal belief and I am grateful to Robert for teaching me how to think about it.

I want to tell you a bit about the way I see myself in this context and my way to actualize it. First, Unlike Jesus, Gandhi, the Dalai Lama, and other “great souls” I have no plans to forgive the atrocities of the past. This may seem counter-intuitive since I just said that I must take personal responsibility. I do not view my position that way and I’ll explain why momentarily. First, I’ll provide some context.

There are a number of large collections of first hand accounts of the Holocaust: some at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, some at Yad VaShem, some in smaller museums like the very beautiful memorial in Montreal and others in LA, Houston, etc.; still others widely distributed around the universities and libraries of the world. By way of context for my feelings let’s look at some of the words of survivors and liberators.


From the Testimony of Yaacov Schwartzberg:

The Lithuanians became organized squads in capturing Jews to work. They did it voluntarily. They helped the Germans. They actually did more of the capturing and torturing and running and all that and bringing the people to hard work, hard labour, where they took them to work. They captured them in the streets. Some of them were never saw them return. They took them and afterwards I found out about it. I didn’t know at that time. They were taken and shot, murdered in Ponar, which was on the outskirts of Vilna, a forest with big holes there, you know, dug up, craters like, the size of craters, which were dug up there. Afterwards I found out that these craters were prepared by the Russian army to hide over there different equipment from the Germans, but no equipment was hidden there. The Germans used those big holes, these dug out holes, they used them to murder the Jews in and bury them there. They used to walk on the edge, they shot them, they fell in there into these big holes, these graves. Some were even buried alive. Some people that escaped from there came back to the ghetto and told the story. Not too many, but some did.

From the Testimony of Barbara Stimler:

We started going through the… through the gate; the SS men were on both sides. And the girls, young people that could see what state I was in, they had a bit of sugar and they started putting sugar in my mouth to revive me. And when they were going through the gates, they were just holding me up, and was left and right, left and right. I went to the right, they told me to go to the right, the SS men. And we had to be…. we were…. they formed us like fifths, five, five, five, we had to stay in five, five girls. And it was dark; it was dark, and they are starting to march us. And can you imagine the screams, the…. the mother was going to the left, the daughter was going to the right, the babies going to the left, the mothers going to the right, or the mothers went together with the babies… Oy oy! I cannot explain to you the cries and the screams, and tearing their hair off. Can you imagine?”

From the Testimony of Edith Birkin:

…This feeling of death, all these people going in the gas chamber. It was a very weird place, very weird place. With this atmosphere of death all the time you know, and this unbelievable situation of people being… you could smell, you could smell these people being burnt. All the time you smelt this… it was a little bit like you know, when people used to boil glue, it was the bones that smelt like glue.///

From the Testimony of Jeanne Levy:

An SS officer was standing there and a woman said, “But you know I can still work and I am still strong. Please help me.” And he gave her a kick that we felt over the whole floor with his foot and said, “You can only die once.”

From the Testimony of Laura Varon:

We were starving and we thought that they gave us food. And while we approached the bowl, in the nose I smell detergent and my stomach was sick already, got even more sick, and I tried to vomit, but I didn’t have nothing to eat and they were beating us to eat and they were calling us names, “Schwein, Jude, whore Jude.” We learned that after, what this means. And beating us in the head, in the shoulders. And I told my sister, “Eat, eat, because he is going to kill you, she is going to kill you.” My Aunt Fortuné, we ate everything and we were vomiting and eating, vomiting and eating. You understand? …Cleanser. Detergent, like chlorox. They gave us so we didn’t have any more periods. And also to kill, Hitler wanted to kill our genes, but he didn’t succeed because still we can reproduce…

From the Testimony of Jack Oran:

We didn’t know what it meant, to the right or to the left. Little did we know that to the left meant going…to the left meant elderly people, young people. To the right, we didn’t know what it’s going to be with us when they marched us into Birkenau, into the camp. In Birkenau we enquired among other people that were there and they told us: “You see that fire that’s burning far over there? That’s where they burn the bodies of the people.”

From the Testimony of Emil Reed:

… a certain amount they sent to march out from the ghetto some place for transportation and the others, what they killed and they left a certain group to go to Plaszow, to the concentration camp, so we had to clean up all the corpses, what they killed there, and put them on the trucks and go with them up to the cemetery, dig the ditches for them and have them buried there. That’s what they assigned people whom they assigned to go to Plaszow.

From the Testimony of Don Krausz:

In February, 1944, all the Hungarian Jews that were in Holland were sent to Germany. My father and three of his brothers were sent to Buchenwald. Sixty thousand people died in Buchenwald. Of the four of them, only one brother came back. From what that one brother told me, my father was practically beaten to death there.

From the Last Will of Ilya Altman:

“On August 31, in the middle of the day, a car full of people arrived. We didn’t know who they were. After a short break, all of them were driven off to the forest, and only when the car returned with their belongings did we realize that these were our wives and children. Imagine this tragedy! The date of September 1, when we burned our families, we shall remember all our lives. The same fate awaits us, but when this terrible moment will come, we don’t know. We live with the hope that God will let us survive till the moment when we will be able to avenge all our dear ones torn out from our hearts. We ask everyone to avenge us, because meanwhile there is nothing we can do, and we wait for liberation.”

from 1985 remembrances of Dachau Liberator Glenn Edward Belcher:

Immediately in front of me after entering the gate – and about 20 yards away was a moat with water in it about 4 or 5 feet wide – a dead soldier was laying face down in it. Just beyond the moat was a high fence – I’d guess it to be 8 or 10 feet high – I understood it was electrified. On the other side of the fence was a valley which was about 20 feet wide and 8 or 10 feet deep – on the other side of the valley were barracks and those locked up. We did not talk to the prisoners and they did not talk to us – between usthere was a moat, an electrified fence and a steep up and down valley. We stared at them and they stared at us. It was as if they didn’t know what to do and neither did we. On our side of the fence and to the right of where the dogs were – were the gas chambers and ovens where people were killed and then burned. There were stacks of bodies (all looked like skeletons) apparently prepared for burning.

From a letter home by Dachau liberator US 1st. Lt. William Cowling:

Another door with the word showers lead off of this and upon going through this room it appeared to be a shower room but instead of water, gas came out and in two minutes the people were dead. Next we went next door to four large ovens where they cremated the dead. Then we were taken to piles of dead. There were from two to fifty people in a pile all naked, starved and dead. There must have been about 1,000 dead in all.


There came a time after the Shoah when German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer declared publicly that  Germany would pay reparations to the Jews. Doesn’t that imply that Germany was repentant enough to warrant forgiveness? I might consider that a possibility. But, did you know that, at the very moment that Adenauer was offering reparations, his Secretary of State was Hans Globke the man who drafted the Nuremberg Laws and the legislation that gave Hitler unconditional power? Why could Globke serve the German government after the fall of the Third Reich? Easy. He was never an official member of the National Socialist party so he was free to continue serving the government! That is reason #1 for my refusal to forgive: I can’t forgive what has not been atoned for.

Here is reason #2: In Judaism, forgiveness must take place between one man and another as part of repentance. For me to “forgive” a NAZI is meaningless. The only people who could offer forgiveness are but ashes now. No forgiveness is even possible.

Number 3: There are 2 things that Jewish law says are not forgivable: Murder and Defamation of Character. Everyone who died in the Shoah was MURDERED and the propaganda leading up to those murders what expressly intended to destroy the lives and reputations of all Jews then and into the future. First, those are both unforgivable. Second, to defame all Jews is to defame all Jews irrespective of time. So, this was not only an assault on European Jews, it was a personal assault on me and all Jews to come. No forgiveness here.

The 4th reason: Since the Shoah, our global planetary ethics have not improved. If anything, they have worsened. We have seen the Cambodian Khamir Rouge murder over 3 million, the Ethiopian Red Terror resulted in half a million murders, over a million were murdered in the Rwandan genocide, almost a million were murdered in the ustasha genocide in Croatia, the Hutu Massacre in 1972 in Burundi resulted in a quarter million murders, the Chinese government killed between 2 and 70 thousand people for being part of Falun Gong in 1999 (not to mention the insanity of the first 2/3 of China’s 20th century!), AT LEAST half a million people were murdered in Darfur,Sudan between 2003 and 2010, and even as you read this the Yazidis in Iraq are being systematically massacred, abducted, raped, expelled  and forcibly converted by Islamic State (ISIL), And as icing on the Islamist insanity, yesterday was the one-year anniversary of the abduction of 300+ girls (over  200 still missing) by Boko Haram. I’m told I would be “happier” if i could “forgive people” and “get rid of all the anger”. But I don’t want to get rid of my anger because I don’t want to loose my desire to fight  these horrors. So, I would refuse to forgive the ideological perpetrators of these travesties even if Jewish law has a path to doing so.

So, today, as Jews around the world gather to mourn the Martyrs of our Faith I say to you that forgiveness is impossible. Jewish law does not permit it and it would be counter productive to the goal of stopping the insanity of which the Shoah is only my most personal example. I  side with Professor Nozick’s ultimate conclusion:

“The Holocaust is a massive cataclysm that distorts everything around it… a massive and continuing distortion of the human space … It’s vortices and gnarled twistings will extend very far. Hitler too constituted a force that distorted the lives of those around him – his followers, his victims, and those who had to conquer him. The vortex he created has not disappeared.”

The vortex will never disappear. The only way to minimize its effect is through human action directed toward and dedicated to using, love, reason, and respect for all human life in a (still questionable) quest to reestablish a reason to call humanity unique enough to continue it’s existence in a universe that couldn’t care less. Not through simply “remembering” and surely not through blind forgiveness,

It’s up to us.

In 1988, 60 headstones were overturned in the Jewish cemetery in the Alsatian city of Sarre-Union. In 2001, the same holy resting place had 54 graves vandalized. Yesterday, once again, a place supposedly of peace was desecrated. From what I have heard, Sarre-Union cemetery consists of about 400 graves and, this time, around 200 of them (!!!) were violated,” Not only is the is the 3rd time in 27 years, but it is the worst attack yet.

According to Bernard Cazeneuve, the Minister of the Interior: “The country will not tolerate this new injury which goes against the values that all French people share”… “Every effort will be made to identify, question and bring to justice the person or persons responsible for this ignominious act.” Prime Minister Manuel Valls, Tweeted that the attack is “a vile, anti-Semitic act, an insult to the memory” of the dead.”

Well, no shit M. Cazeneuve et M. Valis! This is indeed a vile act. The question, though, is: What is France going to do to stop it? It really does not seem much.

As a huge Francophile, who loves your country, your art, your music, your food, and your culture I want to say this to my French friends:

Nous ne sommes pas votre problème!!! Laissez nos tombes en paix!  L’antisémitisme français doit arrêter maintenant!

I’m sorry that my French sucks but you get the point. I won’t post the photos that have bounced around the media because I won’t share the crime of the swastika here. But, suffice it to say, French troubles are not the fault of the Jews. Leave us in peace.

Friends,

What follows is a letter to the editor that I wrote to The Oregonian. It was published on January 28th. If you care to comment on the OregonLive.com site, the letter can be found online here. I post it via my blog to broaden visibility of my position and as an introduction to a new category of Almost Rational posts that will address the rising tide of global antisemitism.

—————————————————-

To the Editor:

I was saddened to again see Israel’s struggle in Gaza distorted through the eyes of oversimplification. Guest columnists Maxine Fookson and Ned Rosch express a sadness that many feel about the humanitarian issues in Gaza, but they support the worst of all possible solutions: the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.

BDS intends to impose hardships on Israeli citizens (including Arabs), but the movement is both untenable and unwarranted. Divestment and sanctions will only increase tensions. It is an irrational proposition that neglects the real issues.

The “government” of the Palestinians can stop the violence with three simple actions:

1) Acknowledge Israel’s legitimacy as a sovereign nation.

2) Stop putting civilians, especially children, in danger by halting the use of schools, hospitals and residential neighborhoods as firing sites and weapons transportation paths.

3) Stop indiscriminately firing rockets at Israeli civilians.

Like many supporters of BDS, Rosch and Fookson choose to ignore Israel’s sovereignty. Worse, they dismiss the fact that Israel is the only true friend of the United States in the region. Proposing sanctions against your only friend — a strategically critical one, at that — is crazy.

Steven Craig Bilow

Lake Oswego

This coming week (specifically January 27th) marks the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz – the techno-sophisticated, hyper-efficient, murder-factory that exterminated about 1.1 MILLION innocent human beings. When the Auschwitz-Berkenau State Museum commemorated the 60th anniversary, about 1500 survivors attended. For this 70th they expect around 300 and most are in their 90s or early 100s. Needless to say, when the 80th arrives the number will almost certainly be ZERO.

This commemoration will be the last to include survivors. Some of the bastards who deny the Shoah, some of the rising tide of European antisemites, some of the Muslim Israel-haters, and some of the increasingly widespread global body of apathetic people who simply don’t give a shit may think that we who fight for the memory of our martyrs will now shut the hell up.

But, my friends, I’m here to tell you that silence, even in the face of a dead generation, is not an option. We will not EVER let the memory or our Jewish martyrs, and the equally abominable murders of homosexuals, “Gypsies”, handicapped people, prisoners of war, etc., die out. If the world’s community of assholes think we will shut-up then they have another thing coming.

This week, in the face of the last “decade commemoration” of the evil of Auschwitz-Berkenau, I promise to become INCREASINGLY vocal about what occurred and INCREASINGLY intolerant of denial and apathy; not only about the Shoah but about all crimes against humanity.

I call upon all my friends, colleagues, and followers to do the same.

B’Shalom!

The following is taken verbatim from http://tabletmag.com/. They own the copyright and none of what follows is mine. If you like this sort of information I encourage you to subscribe to Tablet.

Here’s what the past year looked like for French Jews.

Jan. 26, 2014: Video footage captures anti-government protestors shouting “Juif, la France n’est pas a toi”—“Jew, France is not yours”–at a demonstration in Paris.

March 2, 2014: A Jewish man is beaten on the Paris Metro by assailants who reportedly told him “Jew, we are going to lay into you, you have no country.”

March 3, 2014: France’s Jews demand the election of new chief rabbi (the post had been filled by two interim chief rabbis since April 2013), in a letter that cites the need of a leader “to express the voice of Judaism during the difficult period we are experiencing.”

March 10, 2014: An Israeli man is attacked with a stun gun in the Marais district.

March 20, 2014: A Jewish teacher is attacked leaving a kosher restaurant in Paris. After breaking his nose, the assailants drew a swastika on his chest.

April 3, 2014: A French court fines a 28-year-old Moroccan man $4,130 for posting photos online of himself giving the quenelle salute in front of Grand Synagogue in Bordeaux.

May 15, 2014: A Jewish woman was attacked at a bus stop in Paris’ Montmartre district by a man who shook her baby carriage and said, “Dirty Jewess, enough with your children already, you Jews have too many children, screw you.”

May 19, 2014: A poll of 3,833 French Jews reveals 74 percent have considered emigrating.

June 9, 2014: Two Jewish teenagers and their grandfather are chased by an ax-wielding man and three accomplices as they walk to their synagogue in the Paris suburb of Romainville on Shavuot.

June 10, 2014: A Jewish teen wearing a yarmulke and tzitzit is attacked with a Taser by group of teens at Paris’ Place de la République square. In Sarcelles, two Jewish teens wearing yarmulkes are sprayed with tear gas.

June 23, 2014: Rabbi Haim Korsia is elected Chief Rabbi of France.

June 24, 2014: A French court drops its lawsuit against Dieudonné M’bala M’bala, ruling the French comedian’s video mocking the Holocaust doesn’t constitute hate speech. (Europe’s notoriously strict hate speech laws regulate Holocaust denial as well as “racially or religiously discriminatory expression”.)

July 10, 2014: A 17-year-old Jewish girl is pepper-sprayed at Paris’ Place du Colonel-Fabien square.

July 14, 2014: Bastille Day celebrations in Paris turn violent. Anti-Israel rioters attack the Don Isaac Abravanel synagogue on Rue de la Roquette, and its congregants fight back.

July 16, 2014: More than 400 French Jewish emigreés arrive in Israel, most of them young families from Paris and its suburbs.

July 23, 2014: French Prime Minister Manuel Valls denounces anti-Zionism as anti-Semitism. “Anti-semitism, this old European disease,” he said in a speech, has taken “a new form. It spreads on the Internet, in our popular neighborhoods, with a youth that has lost its points of reference, has no conscience of history, and who hides itself behind a fake anti-Zionism.”

Aug. 14, 2014: The Simon Wiesenthal center requests that a small hamlet south of Paris known as La-Mort-aux Juifs—‘Death to the Jews’—since the 11th century change its name.

Sept. 2, 2014: Two French teenage girls are arrested for plotting to blow up a synagogue in Lyon. A Central Directorate of Homeland Intelligence source said the teens were “part of a network of young Islamists who were being monitored by security services.”

Sept. 12, 2014: French anti-Semitic watchdog group SPCJ reports 527 anti-Semitic incidents from Jan. 1 to July 31, 2014. There were 423 incidents reported in all of 2013.

Oct. 23, 2014: French Jewish leader Roger Cukierman is indicted for referring to Dieudonné as a “professional anti-Semite” during a television appearance.

Nov. 5, 2014: Arsonist responsible for setting fire to a kosher supermarket during July 20 riot in Sarcelles is sentenced to four years in prison.

Nov. 12, 2014: In a new spree of anti-Semitic incidents in Paris, a kosher restaurant is firebombed, and a Jewish student wearing a yarmulke is assaulted outside his private high school.

Nov. 21, 2014: French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve expresses his support for the Jewish community. “Every time you feel the violence exercised against you, when you are afraid for your children, when you are worried about this rising violence, remind yourselves that the republic protects you and an interior minister who loves you and who is your friend,” Cazeneuve says at an event sponsored by Station J, a Jewish radio channel.
Dec. 2, 2014: France votes to recognize Palestine as a state, which the Israeli embassy in Paris says sends “the wrong message to leaders and people in the region.”

Dec. 31, 2014: France states the country from which the largest number of Jews immigrated to Israel in 2014. Nearly 7,000 French Jews immigrated to Israel, double the 2013 figure of 3,400.

The campaign sign below wins the award for most appalling thing I’ve seen in recent American politics. Robert Ransdell is a long time antisemite. He’ll tell you so himself. Even if it didn’t, the simple fact that he is a former regional coordinator for the National Alliance in Cincinnati, and is, right now, a coordinator for the National Alliance Reform and Restoration Group (NARRG) says it well enough. Anyone who would post this sign is simply the embodiment of evil.

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Fortunately Mitch McConnell has nothing to fear from a write-in whack job. Still, every clerk in Kentucky is legally required to count the votes for declared write-ins no matter how nutty or evil they may be. Worse, you know as well as I that there are Kentucky residents who will vote for the guy. Plenty of people out there hate we Jews and our minority friends. Stormfront will have a field day with an opportunity to make this seem politically acceptable.

All I can say is this: Please Kentuckians, don’t let this continue to be acceptable to you. Every vote for Robert Ransdell is a vote for hate, a vote for white supremacy, a vote for evil. End this now!

Recently I’ve been reading a book called “Abraham Geiger and the Jewish Jesus” by Professor Suzannah Heschel, the daughter of the great Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, of blessed memory. The book is about Geiger’s intellectual quest to bring proper understanding of ancient Jewish texts to the study of the historical Jesus.

Geiger’s work is particularly important in light of the very biased and blatantly antisemitic Christian scholarship that was going on in the 19th century. Therein, Jews were always depicted in a negative light, as is often done, thanks to PAUL, Not Jesus, in the New Testament. Geiger’s work proposed that, contrary to what is shown in the Gospels, Jesus was the product of the Pharisees traditions of religious innovation. To Geiger, Jesus was, not only NOT at odds with the Pharisees, he was, himself, a member of that very tradition. 19th-century New Testament historiography was fundamentally based on the work of the people who had no knowledge, or very limited correct knowledge, of the Talmud or the real teachings and writings of either the Pharisees or the Sadducees.

Many Christian scholars hated Geiger’s work. In fact, some of the most important Jewish scholars of that time also were at odds with Geiger. Personally I like Geiger’s work and it has forced an interesting thought to pop into my head.

In my tradition we have a book which we commonly refer to either as the Hebrew Bible or the Tanakh. Typically, that book is also referred to by Christians as the Old Testament. I have come to believe that, while the words on the page may be the same words, the Hebrew Bible and the Old Testament are not the same book.

It has occurred to me that the Bible is more like a temporal hologram than it is like a fixed narrative. Looking at it from one direction it seems to be the mythological narrative of my Jewish people. But, looked at from another angle it is an entirely different book. To me, the Hebrew Bible is a closed ended narrative. To my Christian friends it is simply an anticipatory narrative trying prophesying that which is explained in the New Testament.

I happen to enjoy studying the Bible with a combination of people from different religious traditions. But I have come to realize that my Christian friends perspective on the words, and the interpretation thereof, is so vastly divergent from our Jewish reading of the text that we really are not even studying the same book.

This can explain why Jewish and Christian political views are often so vastly different. It also explains why evangelical Christianity is so often explicitly against everything that I and my tradition hold to be dear and sacred.

This is not necessarily a bad thing. But it does mean that neither of our religious traditions should try to understand the other from within its own context, Rather, we should try to understand each other’s tradition from the context in which the OTHER resides. In other words, Christians must learn to respect Jews, and Jews must learn to respect Christians, knowing that they do not really have the same book as a foundation. Indeed, we have the same words. But looking at the book from the standpoint of a hologram, where the same object can look completely different from different angles, we have to realize that we really don’t have a common book. We have a common history, and we have common foundations. But intellectually we don’t really have a common Bible.

Here is my opinion on how we should approach this issue.

Every once in a while, Christians should walk around to the other side of the Bible and try to view it from our angle. We then, should walk to their side of the Bible and see what the book looks like from that side of the hologram. Most importantly we need to remember that, although the words on the page are the same, our interpretations are so vastly different that we shouldn’t be trying to fit each other into the mold of our religion.

The words might be the same, the stories might be the same, but the fact is that our foundational narrative is not the same. As long as we continue to pretend that it is, neither of our religions will properly value the other; neither will give the other the level of respect we each deserve.

So, my recommendation is that we view the Hebrew Bible as a hologram; as you move from one side to the other the image completely changes. Let’s just respect that.