Steve Wenick

‘If I am not for myself, who will be for me?’ – Rabbi Hillel

With the rise of malicious and violent anti-Semitic attacks from the right and the left, the American Jewish leadership seems to be at a loss as to what to do, as judged by its utterly feeble response.

The consequences of not boldly confronting overt anti-Semitism, which is endemic on college campuses, prevalent in urban centers, and sheltered within the esteemed halls of Congress, has encouraged the perpetrators to continue their verbal, physical and legislative assaults. The cost of ignoring or minimizing those assaults pushes set-upon Jews to retreat to imaginary safe spaces, by concealing their identity as Jews, Zionists, and supporters of the State of Israel.

Too many in the Jewish community refuse to confront co-religionists, like J Street, New Israel Fund, and Jewish Voice for Peace, whose words of support for Israel are disingenuous because their policy positions are hostile to her welfare and existence. Today, the new anti-Israel and anti-Zionism are merely refurbished wrappings, covering age-old anti-Semitism and misguided ideologies. Yet too many in the Jewish community shamelessly deflect attention away from today’s foreign and  domestic anti-Semites, committing instead their energies to actively encourage tolerance, inclusion, and protection for everyone, but members of their own tribe.

Rabbi Hillel who believed in universal kindness, was prescient when he stated, “If I am not for myself, who will be for me”? Then he added, “If I am only for myself, what am I”? It was no accident that he put support of himself first, after which he offered a message of inclusiveness. So, we in the Jewish community should heed his sage advice, “And if not now, when”?

About the Author
Since retiring from IBM Steve Wenick has served as a freelance book reviewer for HarperCollins Publishing and Simon & Schuster. His reviews and articles have appeared in The Jerusalem Post, The Algemeiner, Jerusalem Online, Philadelphia Inquirer, Attitudes Magazine, and The Jewish Voice of Southern New Jersey. Steve and his wife are residents of Voorhees, New Jersey.
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