"Re'eh - See." This is the first word of this week's Torah portion. Moses says to the Jewish people, "See - I place before you today a blessing and a curse." Moses is referring to the blessings that will be forthcoming if the Jewish people fulfill God's commandments and on the flip side, the "curses" that will accompany the Jewish people when they fall off course from the commandments.
The violence and hatred in Charlottesville last weekend and the gaggle of political rhetoric that has ensued in the past days make me want to shout, "SEE! Do you see what is happening in our country?!" In my wacky Jewish communal professional imagination, I cannot help but think, "What would Moses think? What would Moses say? And what would Moses do to help get us, humanity, back on track?"
And I think there is a strong likelihood that Moses would respond: "The answer lies with you." While we cannot control the thoughts and actions of others, we can control our own. We have the power to be a "blessing" in our world in many ways. First and foremost, we know how to be a mensch and treat others with respect, dignity and compassion. It is our responsibility to model such behavior for our children, our community and the world. We, the Jewish people, are also the "people of the book," and therefore, we understand the power of knowledge and education. Hate is fought with knowledge, not more hate. And if there is one lesson we have learned as a people from our own history and tragedies, it is that we must not be bystanders. We need to speak up for what is right and do something about what is wrong.
I know that many of you feel frustration and anxiety, just as I do, about events near and far. Do not let is paralyze you. Get out and do something. Begin with your community. Attend Shabbat services, wherever is comfortable for you. Embrace your community and feel empowered from that sense of belonging and love. Volunteer. Commit to being a volunteer docent at the Holocaust Memorial Museum of San Antonio or ensure that your neighborhood school has anti-bullying programs and strategies in place. In addition, talk to each other, and more importantly, listen to each other. We are only strong when we as a people are unified.
I apologize if my message sounds like a sermon. That was not my intention. I too am sad and anxious and I am looking for comfort and hope. I know we can find that in each other and within our own community. Shabbat shalom.
Chief Executive Officer
Jewish Federation of San Antonio