CONNECT TO...MORE THAN FOUR QUESTIONS

This week I followed as Jews around the world celebrated Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day. While Israel gained independence in 1948 and the story of Passover goes back to ancient times, both holidays remind Jews of their past.

As did many of you, I recently gathered around the Passover table with friends and family, and listened to the reciting of the Four Questions. This year, I believe that there are additional questions that deserve consideration. Would Engage members welcome a discussion on why Jews must never be complacent about who they are? Why must they never forget?

We come together through Engage to help others and to connect with one another through shared experiences. At Engage gatherings that I've attended, I have wondered whether the participants share a concern, often unspoken, but ever present, of the perceived or real rise of anti-Semitism around the world. If the answer is yes, might there be an interest among members of Engage to bring this topic to the forefront in discussions with each other, and in some of the communities in which we serve?

Today news from around the world reaches us as it is happening. It is hard to ignore the recent attacks on Jews throughout Europe, at synagogues, places of business, schools, and in residential communities. It is hard to ignore Israel’s fragile position in the Middle East. I am concerned about the recent announcement to reprint a new edition of Mein Kampf in Germany, and question whether it is an intellectual inquiry or something more. Jews are not the only target of ISIS, but they are a central one.

Some people not only remember the rise of Hitler, they lived it. When faced with the question of whether history repeats itself, how will they respond? Those of us fortunate enough to not have lived it are all too aware of that history. Although it may seem inconceivable to some that in the second decade of the 21st century, an existential threat to Jews could  become a reality, is it something that can be denied or ignored?   

Engage welcomes your thoughts on this. Let us know if you would be interested in participating in a discussion group to explore anti-Semitism in the 21st century. Please contact Rabbi Brian Fink, Director of Engage, at bfink@jccmanhattan.org.