Uriel Vigler
Uriel Vigler

Let’s Learn from the Jew-Haters

This week I received another hateful call on our Chabad line, which had been forwarded to my cell phone. This time it was 2:50 pm on Wednesday afternoon, and I was in downtown Manhattan. I picked up and the caller said, “I have a delivery for you of 1,000 German ovens.”

At first I didn’t understand. “I think you have the wrong number,” I said.

“No, I definitely have the right number,” he said confidently. “This is the Chabad Israel Center, correct? I have 1,000 German ovens for you.”

“What do you want me to do with 1,000 German ovens?” I asked.

“You know exactly what to do,” he said, and then hung up like a coward.

If we look for it, we can uncover a lesson in everything that we experience, including Jew-hatred and anti-Semitism.

This caller actively Googled local Jewish centers. He picked up the phone and made a phone call – a rarity in 2021 – to deliver a message of hatred and animosity.

We need to do the same thing. Go and Google your local Jewish or Chabad center and give them a call. But instead of delivering hatred, deliver a message of love. Instead of delivering 1,000 German ovens, give a $1,000 donation. Go visit the synagogue, attend services, show up and show your love and support.

And it’s not just phone calls. This week I uploaded a Torah class to YouTube with the title “Anti-Semitism: Why do they hate us so much?” You can watch it here. It got maybe three views from people in my community, and the next thing I know there were close to 500 views and 60 hateful comments. Some Jew-haters must have actively been searching and sharing the video with their friends. From their comments, it’s clear they even watched the entire thing, disputing sources, claiming I made things up.

What can we learn from that?

When was the last time you searched your local Chabad rabbi’s YouTube channel and spent time listening to his classes? And if you did listen, did you leave a comment? I, for the most part, never receive comments. Why not leave a message of love, support, and appreciation, and then share the inspiration with a friend?

The anti-Semites are literally searching for Jews everywhere—New York, LA, London, Paris, Israel, Toronto … wherever there are Jews to be found. They are researching the local kosher restaurants, Jewish centers, rallies, schools, shuls and then they bring their Jew-hatred right to us. They throw fireworks at us, beat us up, spit at us, curse us…

We need to do the same thing, minus the violence and hatred. We need to hunt down Jews wherever they are, and bring them love, joy, inspiration, and Torah.

And the haters don’t differentiate. They don’t care if it’s a reform Jew, or conservative, or orthodox, or chareidi, or chiloni. They don’t care if it’s an Israeli Jew or an American one. Australian, French or South African. Make no mistake, they hate us all equally – even the Jews who mistakenly embrace these anti-Semites.

When it comes to loving our fellow Jews, we must do the same. These divisions and labels do nothing but create wedges between us. We must see each other for what we truly are – Jewish brothers and sisters – and love one another unconditionally because of it.

Think of someone you know, perhaps someone you may not otherwise speak to regularly, and instead of offering ovens, offer a challah for Shabbat.

Moreover, when you watch the anti-Semites, it’s noticeable that they wear their garments with pride and joy. Whether it’s the flags or the kafia, they are proud to declare their allegiance.

We need to do the same thing and display our Judaism proudly. Wear your kippah with pride. Wear your tzitzit openly. Look Jewish. Don’t be afraid. We don’t cower in fear or shame, even in scary times like these. We walk proudly.

As passionate as the haters are about their hatred, is how passionate we must be with our love. Our love for Yiddishkeit, our love for Torah, our love for Hashem, and our love for our fellow Jews.

A song we used to sing in camp is deeply ingrained in my consciousness, and regularly plays in my head: “I’m a Jew and I’m proud and I’ll sing it aloud…” Yes, yes I am.

Rabbi Uriel Vigler
A Proud Jew

About the Author
Zimbabwean-born Rabbi Uriel Vigler has been directing the Chabad Israel Center of the Upper East Side of Manhattan together with his wife Shevy since 2005. In addition, he founded Belev Echad which helps wounded IDF soldiers. He has a weekly blog on current events. He is the proud father of eight children (including triplets) and leads a very young, vibrant and dynamic community.
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