William Hamilton

Kindly Rise

A good Seder question arose this year. It was related to posture. Reclining, the posture of free people, invited us to settle in for last week’s Festive nights. But there’s a subtle shift in posture that pops up during our storytelling. It recalls rising.

“And that promise stood by our ancestors and by us, because not only one rose up to destroy us, but, alas, in every generation foes rose who sought our destruction. But God rescues us from them.”

This Tuesday is our annual observance of Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom HaShoah v’ha-gevurah). The day was chosen to honor the heroic resistance waged by our ancestors during Passover in the Warsaw Ghetto. This year marks 80 years since that 1943 uprising. 

With each passing year, its lessons grow more urgent. Earlier this week, a disquieting story in the The New York Times awakened many to a blood-soaked history of Jew-hatred in England. And I recently shared reflections on the eerily-current Broadway Play, Leopoldstadt. 

A painful truth is that when societies are in crisis, they project their anger outward against groups they hold responsible. And yet even though we have little to do with the rise and fall of Jew-hatred, this doesn’t mean we have little to do about it.

Resistance takes many forms. One thing we raise is awareness. This ensures we’re not facing Antisemitism alone. An important campaign.

About the Author
Rabbi William Hamilton has served as rabbi (mara d'atra) of Kehillath Israel in Brookline, MA since 1995.
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