As fear still ripples throughout the Jewish communities of Monsey, Brooklyn and Jersey City following the recent string of anti-Semitic attacks, today’s Solidarity March in New York City, organized by the UJA Federation, aims to counter the negative sensation head on, and bring the Jewish people together “proud, united and strong.”
My students in New York City will also be joining the march. As an act of unity aiming to support all Jews in New York City, it can have a certain positive effect, since unity of any kind acts throughout nature.
For instance, if secular and religious Jews walk side by side in a common identification, then it can bring a very brief moment of correspondence with the force of nature, which connects all parts of reality. Such short-lived unity can thus bring a temporary sense of relief from the rising anti-Semitic sentiment.
However, marches and demonstrations play no long-term role in preventing anti-Semitism’s future rise, and will thus fail to secure a positive future for the Jewish people.
For instance, a memorial march followed the Pittsburgh massacre with thousands of attendees. However, despite the march, a continued rise in anti-Semitic incidents in the US followed. The ADL reported a near-mirror of 785 reported anti-Semitic incidents in the first six months of 2019, which closely mirrored the 780 reported incidents in the same period a year earlier. Also, in New York City alone, anti-Semitic crimes rose 21% in the past year. Thus, as anti-Semitism has been exponentially increasing the past few years, it can be expected to continue increasing regardless of any marches and demonstrations.
Standing together in a march of solidarity is an admirable act, but if the Jewish people want to solve anti-Semitism at its root, they need to also sit down and learn together. Learning in groups has been part and parcel of what made us Jewish to begin with. It dates all the way back to when we learned how to unite according to the commandment, “love your neighbor as yourself,” under Abraham’s guidance some 3,800 years ago. Marches, on the other hand, have never been a Jewish activity.
Therefore, while we are in solidarity with the Jewish people of New York City today, we should still recognize that unifying in order to “say no to hate and no to fear,” as mentioned in the march’s promotion, is far from the kind of unity that made us a Jewish people to begin with. The essence of our unity is not reactionary to hatred that rises against us, but that we positively connect with a common intention to equalize ourselves with the laws of nature. This is why we received the name, “the people of Israel” under Abraham’s guidance: “Israel” stemming from the words, “straight to the upper force” (“Yashar Kel”), i.e., a common intention to love and bestow as is the quality of the upper force.
Therefore, I hope that we will realize the immense potential we hold: to learn our important role in the world, and not wait for more acts of hatred and fear to momentarily unite us, but that we will take our future into our own hands, implement the method made for uniting us, and become a positive unifying example to the world. We would then have a very good reason to be proud. By doing so, we would uproot anti-Semitism from its root, and witness a complete inversion of the sentiment surrounding us into one of support, encouragement and appreciation.
Featured in The Times of Israel