Torah Tidbits

Monitoring and Combating Anti-Semitism

Shabbat Parashat Va’era

Shabbat Mevarekhim HaChodesh

January 17, 2015 – 26 Tevet 5775

Dear Friends,

My friend and colleague, Rabbi Tom Cohen, is the rabbi of a Conservative/Masorti congregation in Paris.  His wife, Rabbi Pauline Bebe, is the rabbi of a Reform congregation in Paris.  Many years ago, I traveled to Paris to perform their wedding which was held in the most beautiful setting of an ancient castle just outside of Paris.  It was a truly joyous occasion and one which I will never forget.  Now they have children in high school….

This past week, my friends and their family, and their extended congregational families lived through the horrendous anti-Semitic attacks in Paris and the subsequent reactions, unity rallies, interfaith moments, etc.  They, and their children, were very close to the events.

I am reminded of this week’s Torah portion, Va’era, in which we learn of Moses’ leadership in times of trouble.

In last week’s parsha, Shemot, Moses expressed his confusion at the rising tide of Anti-Semitism in Egypt, just as God instructed him to confront Pharaoh and demand the Israelites’ release from slavery.  Moses said: “O Lord, why did You bring harm upon this people?  Why did you send me?  Ever since I came to Pharaoh to speak in Your name, he has dealt worse with this people; and still You have not delivered Your people!” (Exodus 5:22-23)

Despite Moses’ confusion, fear, and sense of being overwhelmed by the negative trends of his time, Moses figured out that he needed to stay the course – that he needed to stay involved – until, finally, the trend turned and eventually the Exodus happened.

Today, Jews around the world are facing increasing Anti-Semitism.  I know this from the news I hear from friends and colleagues around the world.

In a conference call with Conservative Rabbis this week, The Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, Ira Forman, spoke of our need to stay informed and to do what we can to stem the rising tide of Anti-Semitism in the world.

Hearing his words, coupled with the letter I received from Rabbi Tom Cohen just a day ago, has brought home the message of Torah and the message of conscience.  We must stay connected with our brothers and sisters who are suffering from the current rise in Anti-Semitism.  We can help by donating funds for the special emergency campaign to help strengthen security in Conservative/Masorti synagogues in France and in Europe through the Masorti-Olami website or through the Federation’s effort  for the same purpose.

We may be confused about Anti-Semitism, but we must not shrink from being there for our brothers and sisters when they need our help.  I hope you will do what you can to be supportive of Jews and of Jewish life, here and around the globe!  And, may you be blessed with all the joys of Jewish living, this Shabbat and in the days to come!

This Shabbat we will be reciting the blessing for the new month of Shevat.  Rosh Chodesh Shevat will be this coming Tuesday evening and Wednesday.  May it be a month of comfort, of healing, and of joy for us and for all the people Israel and for all good people everywhere.

Shabbat Shalom!
Rabbi Gilah Dror