What shall we remember from 2012?

The end of year 2012 coincides with the end of days for our Patriarch Jacob, which was the focus of the biblical reading last Shabbat.

Jacob, lying on his deathbed, looks over to his children. Will he remember the internecine conflict among his sons, the hatred among the brothers, the attempt at fracticide, and the disappearance of Joseph that caused Jacob so much distress and anguish or will he remember how he, Jacob, provoked his children, favoring one son over the other by gifting Joseph a coat of many colors.

At the end of his days, Jacob can either remember the pain he suffered or the pain he afflicted.

As the year 2012 draws to a close, we too must decide what we as a people will remember.

In 2012, more than 92,000 people filled Met Life Stadium in New Jersey celebrating the Siyum Hashas, the completion of the seven year cycle of Talmud study sponsored by Agudath Yisrael.

Many more thousands participated in parallel events across the globe, while elsewhere in 2012, 40,000 ultra-orthodox Jews filled Citi Field in Queens, New York to denounce the role of the internet in modern society, and in Israel tens of thousands of Haredi Jews sustained their opposition to serve in the Israel Defense Forces.

What shall we choose to remember?

In 2012, Prime Minister Netanyahu’s request to meet with President Obama at the White House was denied while in 2012, 70 percent of the Jewish vote supported the President’s reelection.

What shall we choose to remember?

In 2012, the darling of the olympics, American Jewish gymnast, Aly Raisman performed her floor exercise to Hava Nagila while the Olympic committee refused to observe a moment of silence for the Munich 11.

What shall we choose to remember?

In 2012, rocket attacks between Hamas and Israel escalated to an all out war, the threat of a nuclear Iran intensified and the peace process with the Palestinians was at a stalemate, while in 2012, the State of Israel enjoyed unprecedented economic prosperity, the highest concentration of high tech companies outside of Silicon Valley and recognition as a world leader in science, cancer research, and environmental and energy related technology.

What shall we choose to remember?

In 2012, we witnessed the exponential growth of anti-Semitism in Europe, the murderous attack on a Jewish School in Toulouse, France, rabbis beaten in the streets of Germany and Austria, an entire Jewish population forced to leave their resident city in Sweden, anti-Semitic political parties winning a multitude of parliamentary seats in Greece, Hungary and Ukraine; while in 2012, relations between European Jews and Muslims were strengthened, the Mosques and synagogues were twinned across the continent, rabbis and imams exchanged pulpits and Jewish and Muslim leaders formed coalitions to combat anti-circumcision and anti-ritual slaughtering legislation.

What shall we choose to remember?

Let us remember that what we choose to remember from the year 2012, will greatly impact the direction and course we take as a people in the coming year 2013.


About the Author
Rabbi Marc Schneier is the president and founder of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding. A trailblazer in the field of Muslim-Jewish relations, Schneier created and spearheaded the annual Weekend of Twinning’s of Mosques and Synagogues across the globe; the annual meetings of the Gathering of European Muslim and Jewish Leaders (GEMJL) in Paris and Brussels; multiple unity missions to the United States by Muslim and Jewish Leaders from around the world; and the first Summit of Rabbis and Imams. Rabbi Schneier and Imam Shamsi Ali are the co-authors of Sons of Abraham: A Candid Conversation about the Issues that Divide and Unite Jews and Muslims.