Someplace between horrifying deja vu and fire-breathing rage, I am numb, apoplectic. This synagogue (“Loop”) is in the center of Downtown in full view of the passing crowd, next to City Hall, across from the huge Picasso and the Daley building.
My Grandpa Julius was one of its founders a century ago. It is a genuine landmark. Lots of activities geared to people who live or work downtown, including the longest running Chumash class and the most noteworthy annual lecture series.
The shul is beautiful and climaxed by a magnificent stained glass wonder created by Ratner that occupies the entire western wall. Many art aficionados come to the Loop just to see the window. The sun shining through it strikingly enhances the spirit of the davenen.
For years, the rabbi was my mentor and was known casually the “Chief Rabbi of Chicago.” When he resigned, I was touted as his successor. Foolishly, 39 years ago, I moved to Atlanta instead. My classmate Stanley Kroll took the position and has been there ever since. Last year, Linda and I were blessed to daven there on Shabbos, and I was honored to recite the Haftarah.
The swastikas are more than evil.
They are a shondeh for the entire community. Some people see them as a foreshadowing of Kristallnacht. Perhaps I wouldn’t, but the recent changes in the cold-blooded political climate must make us all the more wary. Our response must be more than tongue-clucking. It must be with fearless advocacy, protest, and in-your-face intolerance. This is not just an issue for our own mishpocha, but for all decent people.
May God show His abundant mercy, but just remember that it’s rarely a snap of the finger that brings miracles. Take a look at your Tanakh. Miracles are primarily God’s response to our own initiatives.
WILUDI (Marc H.Wiludjanski-Wilson) is a retired rabbi who writes from Greenville, South Carolina.