Thursday, November 25, 2010

Never Forget

It has now been two years since radical Islamists committed a senseless massacre in Mumbai, India. In addition to the locations where they wounded and killed hundreds of innocent people, these terrorists made it a point to attack a nearby Chabad house. Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg, Rivka Holtzberg (who was pregnant at the time), Rabbi Bentzion Kruman, Yocheved Orpaz, Norma Shvartzblat Rabinovich and Rabbi Aryeh Leibish Teitelbaum were all murdered. The reason? Because they were Jewish. The terrorists were told by their handlers in Pakistan that the lives of Jews were worth 50 times more than those of regular "infidels." Whether it's Nazi persecution from 1938 or Islamic terrorism from 2008, we must never forget what happened.

At full disclosure, I'm not Lubavitch and have some serious problems with the messianic elements of the movement. However, when I saw news of the attacks two Thanksgivings ago, my thoughts focused on how the victims were my (and all our) brothers and sisters - not on my personal disagreements with Lubavitchers. The people of that Chabad house were kind individuals who sought to help fellow Jews in a troubled part of the world. While my philosophical differences would continue, I realized that those differences weren't all that important in the scheme of things. I don't think it had to take such a horrific event to come to this realization, but it inevitably had that effect.

Luckily, not everything that happened during the attacks was evil. In the midst of the hell that had been created by the terrorists, a hero emerged in the form of a nanny named Sandra Samuel. She went out of her way to save Moshe Holtzberg, the orphaned son of Rabbi and Mrs. Holtzberg. In interviews that followed, Samuel expressed how it bothered her that she couldn't have saved more of the victims. An amazing woman like this demonstrates how important it is to judge people by their actions - not whether they are religious or secular, or even Jewish, for that matter. It also shows that even in the darkest hours we can find amazing light. Recently, Samuel received great news: she was awarded permanent resident status and honorary Israeli citizenship.

Whether it's Daniel Pearl or Rabbi and Mrs. Holtzberg or any other Jewish victim in recent memory, they were all targeted based on their Jewishness - regardless of any description that came before the word "Jew" (e.g. liberal, conservative, orthodox, reform, or any other term you wish to insert). If our enemies can figure this out, it's about time we all recognize the significance of our fellow Jews, no matter our personal disagreements. Although it's difficult to swallow our denominational and political pride from time to time, it's better that we do so in life than be forced to admit our lack of priorities in death. We can still rigorously debate issues that are important to us; we just can't allow our differences in thought or lifestyle to lead to indecent treatment of those with whom we disagree.

In the merit of preventing ourselves from harming fellow Jews, may God prevent attacks from those who wish to harm us.

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