Another act of horrific anti-Semitic barbarism, this time in the Chabad synagogue of Poway, CA on the last day of Passover, six months to the day following the Pittsburgh Tree of Life shooting. One life lost, three injured, including my colleague, Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, who was reported to have bravely continued leading his congregation even after being wounded.
Jews gathering to celebrate Jewish life were once again subject to our ancestors’ worst fear: being targeted simply for being Jews. It has been the story of or people since the beginning of our existence.
This illogical hatred has persisted since the birth of the Jewish nation, in Egypt, Persia, Spain, France, Morocco, Germany, Poland, Russia, and of course the constant terrorism that our brothers and sisters experience regularly in Israel.
We Jews are tired after 2,000 years of persecution and terrorism. But don’t take our fatigue as a sign of giving up. The key to Jewish survival has never been to run and hide.
There will no doubt be those who will be inclined to politicize this horrible act of terror, but as students of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, our response will always be the same:
We cannot determine the behavior of others; we can only control how we act. It may seem easier to jump into the fray of pointing fingers and blaming this heinous act of terror on one side of the aisle or the other, but that will be doing precisely what the terrorists have done — increasing confusion and darkness.
Rather, the Jewish response will always be about bringing more love and light into the world. Don’t be like them, let’s prove to the universe that we are a world apart from them. Don’t be part of the problem; let’s continue spearheading the solution.
Judaism doesn’t “turn the other cheek” but we also do not lower ourselves to the level of our haters.
The language that scares evil the most is that of light, love, and kindness. They represent darkness, we are proud beacons of light. Proudly Jewish, proudly being there for all of mankind through acts goodness and kindness.
Anti-Semitism and bigotry are the result of illogical hatred, and the Jewish reaction must be illogical love. Be kind, be good, for no reason other than that’s what the world needs right now.
There is enough hatred out there, so let’s be the reason the tide finally turns towards light and love and make hatred a thing of the past once and for all.
At the Passover seders last week we declared that as Jews, in every generation we face those wishing to annihilate us, but G-d always comes through for us. Jew haters are always there but this will continue to be the battle cry of the Jewish nation until the world is finally a place of complete and utter goodness.
In the words of Rabbi Goldstein to his congregation moments after being shot and single handedly neutralizing the terrorist: “We are strong. We are united. They can’t break us!”
Rabbi Eliezer Zalmanov is co-director, along with his wife Chanie, of Chabad of Northwest Indiana. They are proud parents of seven children, ages 1 through 15. He is also a member of Chabad.org’s Ask the Rabbi and social media teams.