Monday, September 6, 2010

Honoring Jewish Victims of Terrorism

Unfortunately, it often takes death to clarify what is most important in life. All the terrorist attacks committed against Jews in recent years, particularly in the past decade, have bore witness to this statement. From Israel to virtually every other country where Jews live, radical Islamists can't stand our existence and target us. It's peculiar that the Muslim-dominated countries of the world hate one another until they focus on their common enemy of Israel. By the same token, it's also strange that we can't seem to get our act together until we realize there are genocidal regimes that wish to destroy us. While it should never take some extreme predicament to unify us, this appears to be the only way for the message to get across.

Every time I hear about the most recent attack against Jews, such as the Hamas murder of four Israelis last week, I'm extremely saddened and angry. But I'm sick and tired of feeling that way. It's time to act. Aside from obviously supporting those who can militarily stop this evil, any one of us can do something: improve how we treat other Jews. Most of us didn't know these victims well enough to uncover all the different disagreements we would have had with them, but that doesn't amount to a hill of beans. They were our brothers and sisters who died Al Kiddush Hashem (for the sanctification of God's name). In their memory, we owe them something. This was nicely articulated by Devorah in a comment on an earlier post. When spelled in Hebrew, the word Hamas forms an acronym of the following words:

Chasidim
Mitnagdim
Ashkenazim
Sephardim

As she mentioned, if Jewish unity existed, there wouldn't be a need for groups like Hamas. Do we get it yet? We failed to achieve a greater degree of interpersonal decency while the victims of these terrorist attacks were still alive; we owe it to them to achieve some semblance of unity in their death. Obviously, this is extremely difficult because we all have significant disagreements with each other, whether they be personal, political, theological, or about anything else. However, we can overcome our inclination to act indecently toward those with whom we disagree - if we want to. Every time you have a serious problem with a fellow Jew, keep one of our Jewish martyrs in mind. It will put things into stark perspective.

Sadly, it appears as though God is using these terrorists as vehicles through which to create a stronger sense of brotherhood among the Jewish people. As we approach the High Holidays, a time during which we recite Avinu Malkeinu, we express that God is both our Father and King. However, God is only a proud "parent" when His "children" are good to one another. Maybe it will help to remember just how small and unique we really are:


While the video talks about love, what is actually necessary is figuring out a way to tolerate Jews who differ from us. Perhaps love will come naturally over time, but if it doesn't, don't worry. It's more important to act lovingly toward fellow Jews than to feel love toward fellow Jews. From the left-wing Jew living a completely secular life in Los Angeles to the right-wing Jew living a completely religious life in Jerusalem, we are one - whether we like it or not (and quite often, we do not). With all the evil that has been perpetrated against us in recent history, we must understand that we are all part of the same family in the eyes of God. If we fail to receive this message, there is a horrific reminder waiting for us in Iran.

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