JE SUIS JUIF: I AM A JEW
If our tumultuous history has taught us anything about hatred of Jews, it is that a strike against any Jew throughout the world because of his/her Jewishness, is a strike against us all. Any attack on freedom of religion hurts each of us, even if we are not personally in the unfortunate line of fire. And, any attack on freedom of speech similarly diminishes each of us as it strikes a blow to democracy.
The events in France last week are stunning manifestations of the spreading rise of a virulent kind of anti-Semitism across Europe as well as an attack against the fundamental values upon which Western civilization rests. After World War II, many of us mistakenly thought we were more enlightened, more modern. Society had surely learned its lesson the hard way of understanding that prejudice of any kind hurts each of us. And the price was very steep, with the murder of millions.
If our lives are so insulated, so unaffected by this recent turn of events, if we find ourselves not feeling outrage, not being able to say to ourselves and aloud, Jes Suis Juif, then we may need to take a hard look in the mirror and question what, if anything, our Jewish identity means to us.
I used to ask my parents and others of their generation where they were, what they did to counteract the extermination of Jews in Europe in the 1940’s. Where was the American response? Did my parents speak out? Did anyone speak out here or abroad, against the rising tide of anti-Semitism in Europe in the years leading up to World War II? Did we understand what was happening?
And the question before us today is whether we understand what is happening and whether we are moved enough to educate ourselves and speak out against rising hatred toward Jews the world over and toward Israel, our Jewish homeland. Not often do we have the opportunity to come together in a show of solidarity while at the same time getting an insider’s view from the experts about what is happening in the world today and how it affects the Jews as well as all minorities.
AIPAC’s Policy Conference provides us with this opportunity. It is a unique experience from which attendees emerge better educated and better connected to one another. It is difficult not to be moved, not to feel we are each part of something larger than ourselves after attending and to become more activist in our response to prejudice and hatred in all forms and to be more engaged in our support of Israel.
Je Suis Juif. Please consider attending Policy Conference at a time when showing our solidarity is critical. The time to register is short. We hope to see you in Washington D.C.
May the memory of all those who lost their lives to terrorism in France last week be a blessing.
Rabbi Debra Nesselson