This past week (Nov. 9-10) marked the anniversary of Kristallnacht (The Night of Broken Glass in Nazi Germany in 1938), which was recognized this past Shabbat in our sanctuary. 76 years later to the day, Iran’s Supreme Leader, the Ayatollah (via twitter) reposted a 9-point response and genocidal call for the destruction of the Jewish state. (originally released in July, 2014 – you can view the document by clicking here)
And while this is certainly not the first time that Iranian leaders have called upon the destruction of the State of Israel, especially as we are reminded this week to “never forget” the atrocities of the Holocaust, I believe it is critical for us, as individuals, and as part of a Jewish community, to remember that when tyrants threaten, the world should listen. We know all too well that when the world wouldn’t take Hitler’s threats seriously, the Nazi Holocaust and WWII ensued. Our tradition reminds us: tzedek, tzedek, tirdof – justice, justice, shall we pursue. WE have a sacred obligation to not stand idly by in the face of injustice, to not allow our voices to remain silent, and to take action in order to effect change.
Rabbis Marvin Hier and Abraham Cooper, Dean and Associate Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, noted: “The only true path to change Iran’s behavior short of regime change is the re-imposing of tough sanctions and the demand that its nuclearization program be dismantled.” As Americans, we have the right to voice our thoughts to our congressional leaders. We can also let our voices be heard by clicking here to sign your name to a letter to Jean-Claude Juncker, the President of the European Commission. The letter urges European governments and the EU to provide law enforcement protection where the physical safety of Jews is threatened, collect data on anti-Semitism, and enforce anti-hate speech laws. Thanks to AJC (The American Jewish Committee) for leading the way.
In reflecting on how we can do our part, I also am very conscious, especially this week, of those who have taken action, by serving in our armed forces; those individuals who never stood idly by, but sought to protect our freedoms and highest values. A colleague of mine, Rabbi Larry Milder, once wrote a beautiful prayer to honor those veterans who served our country proud:
Compassionate God, Source of Mercy, we pay tribute to those who have served our country, to express our gratitude for their courage and selflessness, both those among us today and those of generations past. This nation, built by those born of this soil and those who have come here from all the corners of the earth, is on a continual journey toward its destiny. May we never let down those who have served in defense of this country. May we uphold the values of freedom, of the inherent dignity of every human being, by our own right conduct, by the kindness and tolerance we show to one another. May we lead the world by example, and become, in the words of Isaiah, a light to the nations. Then will the labors and sacrifices of these veterans be honored not in words alone, but by our deeds.
May we never lose sight of honoring those who upheld and continue to uphold those values which are essential to our way of life. Amen.