The No Hate, No Fear Solidarity March against anti-Semitism was sparked after a chilling attack at a Chanukah party in Monsey, NY, and a rash of attacks on the Hasidic Jews in Crown Heights. Twenty-five thousand people, Jews and non-Jews alike, and a backdrop of thousands upon thousands more who were watching and experiencing the event from behind their computer screens (myself included) marched together in an enormous show of unity against anti-Semitism.
I had my doubts about what this event was supposed to accomplish. Unfortunately, someone who hates Jews will not stop hating Jews because of this march. A person or group of people will continue their hate, especially in a society that sugar coats hate speech as part of their first amendment right.
As I saw photo after photo from individuals at the march on my Instagram, as well as on the internet, I noticed something more powerful that was accomplished at this march than simply a solidarity march against anti-Semitism.
Growing up as an assimilated Jew, I heard non-observant Jews mock the Orthodox. I have heard secular Jews say disturbing things about the Chabad-Lubavitch movement. Righteous converts are looked down upon by some communities. Some will mock the less observant Jews behind closed doors. Now as a religious Jew, I have personally experienced judgments, looks, and comments by other Jews who stare at me and my children as if we are from another planet, practicing a different religion. The list can go on and on of Jew against Jew across denominations and sects.
Maybe you can relate with some of what was mentioned above. Sometimes we can be our own worst enemies in subtle ways.
Some Jews will drive on Shabbat. Some Jews won’t. Some Jews are married to non-Jews, others will not entertain that thought. Some Jewish women wear wigs, some wear scarves, and some don’t cover their hair. Some Jews keep Sefardi customs, while others keep Ashkenazi customs. Some Jews will keep strictly kosher, some only keep kosher at home, and other Jews don’t. Some Jewish men wear a yarmulke, some don’t, and sometimes Jewish women wear a yarmulke.
I do not know two Jews who practice their Judaism in the same way, even within the same denomination, and even within the same family. (Two Jews, three opinions, right?) We all have our own personal relationship with G-d, and we all have our own shticks.
Right now, as we speak, Jews, all Jews, are under attack at every angle, whether it’s anti-Semitism from the political realm, teaching Jew-hatred in academia and colleges, vandalized property, the BDS movement, the brutal attack at a kosher supermarket in Jersey City, or the gruesome attacks in Pittsburgh, Poway, and now Monsey. It seems it is not safe to walk the streets of Brooklyn anymore.
We are all crying deeply, hugging our families a little tighter, after each vicious attack because we feel such pain for the victims and their families, and we know that it could happen to us, anywhere, anytime. As a result of this pain, we put aside our petty differences and focus on what unites us, without the unnecessary side banter of looking down on other “kinds” of Jews.
While we cherish the customs that we have developed and picked up after living and surviving in different parts of the globe for two thousand years, we should not use our personal customs as a yardstick to look down upon or frown upon our fellow Jews. Remember, two thousand years ago, we were all just Jews.
That is exactly what I took from the No Hate, No Fear march. Thousands upon thousands of people from all walks of life, unified, proud, walking hand in hand, side by side. Reform, Conservative, Orthodox, Hasidim, Litvish, Sefardim, unaffiliated, you name it, all stood together with one voice, and one heart. Against hate. For love. And not “Proud to be Hasidic,” or “Proud to be Orthodox,” or “Proud to be Reform,” etc, but “Proud to be Jewish.” Period. From children through the elderly, people of all shapes and sizes, a beautiful medley of humanity marching together, under G-d.
The Jewish people are compared to a single human body. One person is the head, one the spine, one the feet, etc. No part of the body is more important than the other, because all systems and limbs must work together in harmony to make a healthy body that is the Jewish nation.
What I hope can come out of this march after the rush of Jewish unity and love has subsided is for this love and unity to exist in a tangible way among us. Let this not be just another solidarity march, and then go about our busy, separate lives, underhandedly thinking about what divides us. What I saw was a lot of light and love being created that day. Only love can banish hate. May we merit to see this love spill over throughout the world.