Faces. It’s all about faces.
Rutgers now is undergoing an attack of anti-Semitism that is jaw-droppingly classic and deeply vicious, in equal parts stupid and foul. It’s being perpetrated not by students, who possibly didn’t know any better than to repeat ancient tropes of hatred and fear, but by teachers, people who have earned doctorates in their own, in some cases obscure fields, but still have learned virtually nothing about how to live in this world.
In some senses, there is nothing to be said about it. It’s disgusting and stupid. Period. But to realize how long the Rutgers administration let it fester — until they were pressured into acknowledging what was under their clearly stopped-up noses — is terrifying.
Last week, Larry Yudelson’s story on the situation included a Facebook post by Michael Chikindas, the director of the university’ Center for Digestive Health and the founder of the compellingly-named journal Probiotics and Antimicrobial Proteins. The post included nine cartoons of hook-nosed Jews, rubbing their grubby hands together as they exert their vile control over the Federal Reserve and Hollywood, and participate in such activities as sex trafficking and the “cancer industry.” (Whatever that might be.)
It is a foul cartoon.
We are glad to note that the school finally is taking some action against Dr. Chikindas — not against his colleagues, but baby steps — but we cannot understand how he was allowed to get away with such virulent hate for so long.
Last week, I also wrote about the video from the Sinai Schools, focusing on the faces of some of the school’s students; sad faces, frustrated faces, hopeful faces, joyous faces. Innocent faces. Loving faces. The comparison couldn’t have been more striking. Sometimes there is absolute black and white. Not often, but sometimes. This really strikingly was about good and evil.
This week, I went to a dinner at Congregation Beth Sholom in Teaneck honoring the Jewish National Fund and some of its most devoted local volunteers. It is extraordinary; this was the 50th annual dinner devoted to the 70-year-old state. Some of the honorees’ devotion to Israel goes back to its founding. Bob and Helen Levine, in particular, have been JNF mainstays at Beth Sholom for 50 years; their commitment is inspirational.
The dinner ended with a video showing children from Jewish institutions around the world singing Hatikvah. It focused on their faces; Jewish kids from India and Romania and Italy and Russia and Israel, all wide-eyed, all open-faced, all hopeful, singing about Hatikvah. The Hope.
So there it is. Two kinds of faces. The faces of love and the faces of hate. The faces of reality and the faces of nightmare.
I know which one I chose. The face of love and light.