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With whom do you stand? -- Shabbat Message 2/27/15

Posted on 02/27/2015 @ 11:00 AM

This weekend is Shabbat Zachor – a time when we are commanded to remember all that Amalek (a nation of anti-Israeli fighters) did to the Israelites as they were traveling through the desert. They were intent on destroying the entire people. A brief scan of the headlines might make us think, has anything really changed? Synagogues attacked in Copenhagen. Supermarkets targeted in Paris. Are we still that same group of Jews, trying to make it through our journey, feeling attacked from all sides?

A few weeks ago Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, former Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom, spoke to the teens at pre-IC summits in Atlanta. During a question and answer period one of the teens asked his thoughts on the current wave of anti-semitism sweeping across the world, and particularly Europe. His response caught me off guard. He talked about the multitude of ways in which he fights for freedom and equality for Christians, Muslims, Catholics, and other faiths. It took me a moment to understand why his response to our need for security had anything to do with his fight for others. He said they needed his help in their fights. He said the victim cannot fight alone. In echoing our message of Stronger Together, he said that what we need is unity to bring an end to the fear that Jewish communities, and all religious communities, are facing. Oppressors need to know that when they act, their victims are not alone in standing up and fighting back.

This is a far cry from Deuteronomy 25: 17-19, where God commands the Israelites to take matters into their own hands: Settle in the land that has been promised, regain some strength, and then destroy the people who tried to destroy you. Our prominent leaders of today are sharing a different message. Build bridges, don’t fight alone. Look beyond yourself to see what others need; everyone will benefit in the long run.

Hillel says, "If I am not for myself, who will be for me? But if I am only for myself, who am I? If not now, when?" Pirkei Avot 1:14

Are you only for yourself?

This Shabbat Message was written by Aleeza Lubin, Director of Jewish Enrichment, Central Hub

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