This was a month of both horror and hope.
Horror because of what happened on January 6th just a few miles from our building. The fact that a mob attacked the Capitol to nullify the results of an election was bad enough. But some of the images from that day held a special horror for Jews. The “Camp Auschwitz” T-shirt with “Staff” on the back, and the T-shirt with “6MWE” – standing for “6 Million Wasn’t Enough” – were stark reminders of the warning from the Passover seder: “In each and every generation they rise up against us to destroy us”. But it continues with hope: “And the Holy One, Blessed be God, rescues us from their hands”.
Still, we must remain vigilant. We took measures to improve our security after the Tree of Life shooting. And we have continued to look for ways to improve our security, taking advantage of Homeland Security grants. We closed on Inauguration Day out of caution; happily there was no problem and we resumed normal operations the next day.
Another reason for hope is that the new administration is sending a message of unity. How effective it will be in cooling the passions that were raised, of course, remains to be seen.
There’s another abbreviation visible in some pictures from the 6th: WWG1WGA. It stands for the motto of QAnon – Where We Go One, We Go All. As crazy as the Q conspiracy theories are, that slogan isn’t so crazy. Recall the words of Pastor Martin Niemoller about the Holocaust: “First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak up because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak up because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak up because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me – and there was no one left to speak for me.”
We observed Martin Luther King’s birthday this month. Jews were heavily involved in the struggle for civil rights sixty years ago. It is not merely a matter of justice, but of self-preservation to speak up for the persecuted. If we do not speak up for others, we can hardly expect them to speak up for us. The forces of hate rise up in every generation; they count heavily on nobody else speaking up. To counter them, we must always speak up – early and often. Because it’s true: where we go one, we go all. Divided, we go singly into oppression one by one. Only united can we go all into freedom.
On the lighter side: I’m sure many of you have seen the social media memes inserting Bernie Sanders wearing mittens into all sorts of scenes. One of my favorites was not a Photoshop at all. It was the unedited picture, with a caption. “Waiting for the synagogue president to finish the announcements so we can get to the kiddush”. I’m hoping that in a few months, that can come true.
As always, if you have any questions or concerns, I can be reached at email@example.com.