From Apartheid to Racism

My mother’s comment has been swirling around in my mind all week:  “We moved out of apartheid South Africa to get away from racism, intolerance, and hate,” she lamented. “I can’t stop thinking about what happened in Charlottesville, and how scared I am that we are moving backwards.”

I too am scared that we are not paying attention to the intolerance that seems to be building around us.

I’m scared that we are dismissing these acts of destruction and hatred to certain parts of America.

I am scared that we are in our own righteous echo chamber, distancing ourselves from something that we think doesn’t impact us.

I am scared that we are too scared to speak truth to power, because we don’t want to offend.

I am scared that my children will have to hide parts of themselves, because the new normal will dictate that minorities are unwelcome.

I am scared that I am entirely unequivocal about my distrust and contempt of our president.

But here’s what I know:

I know that hatred doesn’t usually prevail.

I know that people are essentially good.

I know that the march towards unity, however slow, is the natural progression of our world.

I know that intolerance and racism and anti-Semitism will lose to love and justice and truth.

I know this, because I see that my children are unable to comprehend why hate drives people to shout, and burn, and hurt, and kill.

And so I hope that we can ALL figure out how to “do what is good and right in the sight of the Lord” (Devarim 12:28).

About the Author
Rabba Sara Hurwitz, Co-Founder and President of Maharat, the first institution to ordain Orthodox women as clergy, also serves on the Rabbinic staff at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale.
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