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18- Response to Colleyville

In this episode, Rabbi Lehrfield starts the discussion on Antisemitism.


Hey everybody. I'm an Menachem Lehrfield, and this is 0% where we explore world changing ideas introduced by Judaism. This season, we've been looking at the Jewish impact on education, specifically the growth mindset we've been exploring, where we see the growth mindset coming to life, being encouraged and built through so many ideas and concepts that we learn. And we teach in Judaism. We then moved onto the Jewish life cycles, looking at Jewish life cycle events and how we as Jews mark time and how in that market of time in those rituals and events, we are also in perhaps an even more powerful way, encouraging and building a growth mindset. If you recall, we mentioned that the very first episode, how outsized the Jewish impact has been that despite our tiny numbers, the Jewish people have been so impactful as mark Twain pointed out. One never should have even heard of a Jew.

And yet we've heard of them. Their impact can be felt in every part of society. We've been talking about the incredible impact that Jewish people have had despite our small number, but it's not just our impact. That is so outsized. It's also the hatred towards us. If someone hates any minority or any marginalized group, we call them a bigot or a racist, but when people hate the Jewish people, we call them antisemites. And the reason for that is that antisemitism is so different from all other forms of hatred, so different that it needs its own name. I can't just call it another form of bigotry. It's not just another type of hatred. It is unique just as the Jewish people and our impact has been so outsized. So is the hatred towards the Jewish people. And I would argue that just as the impact of the Jewish people is not because of who we are as Jews, but because of what we've introduced because of what we stand for, as I said before, has more to do with Judaism than it has to do with the Jews.

So is it with the hatred towards us as we'll point out in the next couple of episodes, the hatred towards the Jews is a unique hatred, different from all other hatreds. And I wanna be clear. I'm not saying that Jews should define themselves by others, hatred towards us. I know many Jews that do that. I know many Jews that see Judaism as a response to the Holocaust and that I believe is a mistake. We are not Jews because of those who hate us. We're not even Jews be. Despite those who hate us, Judaism has to be separate from that. A Judaism that exists only in response to those who wanna destroy us is nothing more than an empty shell that will never last. But with that said, it's important to keep in mind. It's important to understand the roots of antisemitism because it shed light on what it means to be a Jew. We throw the expression around all the time. Never again, never again. We're gonna make sure and ensure that a Holocaust could never happen again. Do you really believe that a Holocaust couldn't happen now in the 21st century?

Never again does doesn't mean that now that I know what evil people are capable of doing now, I'll be armed to take care of things on my own, or now that we have Israel and we have an army that's powerful, they'll intervene and they'll take care of us. I don't know that any of those things can truly protect us. So when I talk about the importance of understanding the roots of antisemitism, in order to ensure that we get rid of antisemitism once, and for all, that's not what I mean, the root of antisemitism will get to in a couple of episodes. And when we do it will shed light on what it means to be a Jew. Tomorrow, Thursday, January 27th will be the international Holocaust remembrance day. And I think it's fitting that we spend a couple of weeks, a couple of episodes discussing the world's longest hatred, discussing antisemitism, trying to understand the roots of why people hate the Jewish people.

It's been less than two weeks since a gunman held four hostages in a standoff that lasted over 11 hours in Beth Israel, congregation, a synagogue Northeast of Fort worth, Texas. It's been less than two weeks in my mind. It seems. And it feels like it's months behind us. And that's a sad reality. These tragic events shake us up. They make us scared. And for the time being as the moments are unfolding, we are United with juice throughout out the world in deep heartfelt prayer, as we hope. And we pray for the release of these hostages, as we hope. And we pray that all is well and peaceful in the Jewish people. But then, you know what happens just a couple days go by and we move on with life. We don't even remember what happened. We begin to accept these attacks as a new normal, and that is a huge problem. The ADL, the anti defam league reports that antisemitic incidences have increased by 60% over the past five years. And not that it's a competition, but even before that attacks on Jews were the highest among any attack against a religious group.

And again, those numbers, those statistics are not inflated for the population of the Jewish people. Those are actual real numbers. That means even though you never should have even heard of a Jewish people, you shouldn't know that synagogues exist because there are so few and far between the numbers of our people are so small. And yet the attacks against Jewish people and Jewish institutions are so far are beyond any other religious group. And they're just increasing. They're just getting stronger. The hate is getting stronger. Thankfully, the hostage situation in Colville didn't end as tragically as it could have. And that's thanks to the bravery, the vigilance, and even more importantly, the skill and the training of the synagogues rabbi rabbi, Charlie ciran Walker. Think about how sad it is for a second that the rabbi had to be trained were living in a time where living in the United States of America were rabbis and synagogue. Staff are constantly taking active threat training courses.

This rabbi had taken one of those courses. And as a result of that, he was saved. He said on CBS mornings, he said that when your life is threatened, you need to do whatever you can can to get to safety. And based on what he learned in his training, he threw a chair at the gunman, shouted to the other two hostages to run. And that's how they made it to safety. As I'm reading this, as I'm hearing the interviews and seeing the articles, it reminds me of my own training because here in Denver, we also take active threat training and VI Leski. If you're listening to this, we are so grateful to everything you do to keep us and our congregation safe. But how sad is it that we need to do this? When I was in rabbinic school, they didn't give any classes on active threat training.

I, I wonder if that's part of rabbinic training these days, and if it's not, it probably should be, think about what kind of America we live in today. As we begin to explore the roots of antisemitism, as we begin to look at the history of antisemitism, unfortunately, it's not a new problem. And today I'm recording an episode about an event on January 15th, 20, 20. But unfortunately, whenever you listen to this episode and I, and I hope that this shouldn't be true, but the sad reality is that it's such a timely idea and concept antisemitism that whenever you listen to it, it's probably relevant. I could have recorded this last year or the year before or the year before. And I don't think anything that I would've said would've changed. So here we are approaching international Holocaust remembrance day. What's the point of having an international Holocaust member and day? I would think that the idea is to teach us how to overcome the deep hatred that exists in the world. I would think the idea is to ensure that another Holocaust never happens again. And yet we see to be repeating these patterns over and over again, antisemitism, the hatred of the Jew has existed since the beginning of the Jewish people.

And it doesn't look like it's going anywhere. Anytime soon, antisemitism is one of the most perplexing and difficult at things to understand. As we started this episode off the Jews make up 0% of the world. Nobody should have even heard of a Jew. And yet, as long as Jews have been on this earth, there has been a hatred towards Jews. How do we understand that? How do we explain it? Where does it come from? That's something I wanna begin to discuss, and then we'll get to the impact that Jewish people have had in the world. So let's begin. What's not necessarily an easy conversation, but I think it's an important one. I remember going to Europe as a teen and we saw all the sites and it was interesting and quite fun to see how different different cultures were and how different people lived. But I think one of the things that was most startling for me personally, as a young American Jewish teen was noticing how different things were in terms of antisemitism.

We went to a restaurant in Zurich and we had to, it was in the JCC, a Jewish community center, and we had to get buzzed in cuz the door was locked. We had to get buzzed in to come inside. And then there was a security guard inside into a sh in, I think it was in Florence, in Italy and the same thing in Rome. And there were armed guards standing outside with guns. And I'd never seen anything like that before, you know, growing up as an American teen and this is pre nine 11, it was quite bizarre. And I remember talking to the people there and learning out what life was like for them and, and just living in a world full of antisemitism. And the reality is that today in America, it's not very different. I don't think there's a synagogue in this country that doesn't have armed guards outside. They say half jokingly. If you wanna find the synagogue, just look for the building that has security outside, just look for the police car. And that's the show.

My synagogue here in Denver is on a street sandwich between three churches. I don't think I've ever seen a police car outside those churches, but every single weekend you will see a police car outside the synagogue. You can locate Aho by the fact that there's a police car outside many SHS, many synagogues have added these measures since the tree of life shooting in Pitts, where a man walked into a synagogue and just started shooting people. Or the San Diego Passover shooting were seeing schuls synagogues being vandalized all over the country in Arizona and Illinois and New York, a Yeshiva and schul were set on fire in borough park. There was a situation in Holland beach where somebody yelled out their window, all Jews should die and then dumped a bag of excrement in front of the soul, a large rock hurl throw window in a congregation in, uh, Tucson, Arizona.

These things are happening all over the country. At the time I'm recording the podcast episode, antisemitism is on the rise. 82% of Jews right now believe that it's increased over the past five years. And the sad reality is I imagine whenever you're listening to this, even if it's years down the road, I don't know that what I'm saying is not gonna be timely. I hope if it's not, but history would tell me that it's probably gonna be more of the same. There's a massive billboard in times square and really all over New York and most metropolitan cities in America that were put up by and similar ones put up by an organization called Julong and the times square reads for just 75 years since the gas chambers. So no a billboard calling out antisemitism. Isn't over reaction.

We're living in scary times a few months ago during the two week of clashes in Israel and Gaza, 200 and in 22 reports of antisemitism and harassment and vandalism and violence were reported in the United States. The ADL talented more than 1200 incidents just last year. And that doesn't even include the ones from this year. In those two weeks alone, they counted more than 17,000 Twitter users tweeting the phrase. Hitler was right, 17,000 between May 7th and May 14th of this year, 63% of American Jews say that they've been the victims of antisemitism over the past five years. And what scares me is that's how many have reported it? How many don't get reported? When I walk home from so on a Friday night, every once in a while someone rolls down their window and yells something at me, I've never reported that how many more incidences are happening.

Just like that, to be clear, the Israel Gaza issue, wasn't a new cause of antisemitism. It simply created an environment where it became okay to voice antisemitic, thoughts and positions. And we know how dangerous that really is. Like I'd like to give the Trevor Noahs of the world, the benefit of the doubt and assume they don't realize how their comments put so many lives in danger, mostly the Palestinians, but even more than that Israelis and not just Israelis, but Jews throughout the world. As a direct result of those kinds of comments. Three men drove down the street in Brooklyn, yelling profanities and attacked two Jewish teenagers. There were riots in Manhattan and LA Jews were attacked on the street, an opened daylight in the United States of America in 2021, Jews attacked while eating outside in kosha restaurants, countless people being beaten and even killed on the streets of America, just for being Jewish.

Antisemitism is on the rise and it's scary, but it's not new in America. It's just come to the surface again. You take a look, just look online. You see some photos from the 1930s in America, and you would think you were watching some sort of dystopian HBO special, but this was real. The German American bond rally held in Madison square garden in 1939, where you see Madison square garden filled with Nazis and pictures of George Washington. And SWAs goes right next to it. Parades going on the streets of New York, with cars and people with SWAT flags and Nazi youth summer camps around the country, literally all over the country. It's not a new problem, but it is a problem. And it may start with Jews, but it never ends with Jews. So or not. This should make you afraid antisemitism isn't new, but it isn't getting any better in the next episodes. I wanna try and understand what antisemitism is, why it exists. And most importantly, what we can do about it.

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