Pirke Avot 2:8-- “Hillel used to say: The more Torah the more life; the more study the more wisdom; the more advice the more understanding; the more charity the more peace. One who acquires a good name acquires it for himself; one who acquires words of Torah has acquired himself a share in the World to Come.”
August 18, 2017
26 Av 5777
Shabbat Re’eh Deuteronomy 11:26-16:17
I was not in Charlottesville last weekend so I can only comment as an observer. Congregation Beth Israel of Charlottesville was literally on the front lines and you can find on the internet articles and interviews with their rabbis and Temple president. For first-hand accounts go there. I can only imagine how scary this entire experience was for them, but I’ve also read of their courage and strength, the incredible love shared with them by other clergy, and the passion of the people to resist the filth of those who came to spew forth hate and vile: Nazis, KKK, and white supremacists. Let me add one more note. I am not enamored with the group called Antifa. I abhor violence. They came to confront and fight the haters, but their methods are against my beliefs in solving problems. Protest and resistance to hate can be achieved without mace and clubs.
My stomach has been in knots all week. We mourn the death of Heather Heyer who was murdered and the two State Troopers--48-year-old Lt. H. Jay Cullen, of Midlothian, and 40-year-old Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates, of Quinton—whose helicopter crashed while patrolling the chaotic scene. May their memories never be forgotten and always a blessing to those who knew and loved them. We also stand puzzled by our president’s words and attempt at leadership. He should have denounced the haters right from the start. Instead, his softball words gave those despicable groups hope that their cause was just.
If you haven’t watched this video and you are still on the fence about why these “protesters” came to Charlottesville, here is the link, https://www.facebook.com/VICEVideo/videos/852427754917176/?hc_ref=ARR5yTYw3-kA4w7NIeTvwc1Jl96KtimHMI5vFwHsBecqfv1RBRWxbnd0f6bp7CC8hvA&pnref=story
It begins on Friday night with the haters marching through Charlottesville chanting, “You will not replace us.” This morphs into, “Jew will not replace us.” The chant, “Blood and Soil,” a favorite of the Nazis is added to this. Caught on film is the car that murdered Heather Heyer driving into the crowd, smoke rising above the trees where the helicopter crashed, “protesters”, counter-protesters, and more.
“Jew will not replace us.” What more do I need to know about the true meaning of this march of Nazis who murdered 6,000,000 Jews and millions more gypsies, homosexuals, Jehovah Witnesses, the handicapped, political opponents, and anyone who got in their way. What more do I need to know about the true meaning of this march of the KKK who lynched Blacks, hated Catholics and Jews, terrorized communities, and hid their cowardly faces under hoods. What more do I need to know about the true meaning of this march of white supremacists who believe that Jews, Blacks, Latinos, Hispanics, Asians and anyone who doesn’t look like them must be subjugated. You can substitute the word “Jew” for any of these groups and what you get is hate.
Where was our President? He tried to equivocate and lay blame “on many sides.” His supporters ran away from his moral inadequacy and denounced this show of hate. Our Ohio senators and governor spoke up and denounced those who protested. I am still waiting for my congressman, Mr. Renacci, to say something. I read words written by the great-great grandchildren of those whose statues stand on public ground. Some words stronger than others, but none disagreeing with the fact the Confederate statues must be removed. Their presence celebrates slavery and oppression and a nation divided.
I want to thank Action Together Stark for calling people together on Sunday. We held signs of love for the people of Charlottesville and denounced those who espouse hate. We heard a few words beginning with Rep. Tom West of the Ohio 49th. Next Tuesday evening there will be an interfaith vigil to help all of us find a path of healing. Thank you to Rev. Eric Stricklin of Zion UCC and Rev. Ed Fashbaugh of Crossroads UMC whose church downtown will host this gathering beginning at 7 PM. We must show love and resist hate. The foundations of this world are shaking right now. People joining together in prayer and song and unity and love and community is what we need more than anything else. There is so much more I could write, but let me say this—I was not in Charlottesville, but I feel my soul is there right now and will be with you on this Shabbat.
When you light your Shabbat candles, light one for Congregation Beth Israel, its rabbis and leaders. May God give you strength in the days to come. Light the other candle and let its light of Shabbat peace shine out around the world. We need it.
Rabbi Jon Adland