Rabbi, I Share Your Pain

Dear Rabbi Vaisberg,

I read your post in the Times of Israel calling on the People of Israel to, “Please take swift action to address Israel’s internal plagues, so that we might have a nation in which all her citizens can be safe and thrive, and in which we, the Jewish people, can serve as commanded as a light to the nations.”

I too pray, as you wrote with eloquence, “there will be a thriving Jewish state of which I can be proud … for my grandchildren and for my great-grandchildren.”

I read your plea from my home in Miami, short miles from streets and communities in which our neighbors are too often robbed, beaten, raped and murdered. Youngsters in Miami’s most distressed urban neighborhoods often grow-up forever traumatized simply by the experience of their lives.

I read your plea from my home in Miami, a center of the miraculous story that is America, a nation where more than one in five of our children live in poverty.

I read your plea from my home in Miami, one the world’s most popular tourist destinations in the United States where over the past three years, more than 18,000 hate crimes have taken place. My home state of Florida ranks second in the nation for hate crimes. Our attorney general recently reported that 22 percent of hate crime victims are targeted because of their sexual orientation, closely followed by religion.

I read your plea from my home in Miami, a half day drive from Charleston, South Carolina, where just weeks ago, nine peaceful church parishioners were horrifically murdered by a lone young American after spending an hour in a bible-study group to which he’d been warmly welcomed. In the same region of America, more than half a dozen African American churches have mysteriously burned down in as many weeks.

I read your plea from my home in Miami, a pearl in the jewel of America, where horrible things happen every day to people whose names and stories we will never know.

When awful things happen in Israel, people throughout Israel and the Jewish community in Miami, often know the details. We know the names, mourn for those lost, and ask ourselves and others questions that are an appropriate response to any tragedy.

How many of the victims of thousands of hate crimes that occur regularly in America can we name? How many of those who have been victims in America because of their sexual orientation or religion have our rabbis spoken about from their pulpits?

Do you know the name Rohit Patel?

Mr. Patel is the 57-year-old Indian man whose teeth were broken and had to be treated with stitches to his mouth and head after being attacked by an assailant in a New Jersey suburb last month.

He is one of the lucky ones. He’s still alive.

After arresting the attacker, someone police allege has been involved in multiple previous attacks against the Indian community, he was quickly released from jail, leaving Mr. Patel’s family to say they are living in daily fear.

I read your plea from my home in Miami, grateful for a Jewish nation that, despite never a day of peace, has become the world’s most vibrant, thriving democracy in a region of the world where unspeakable brutality and tyranny is typical.

I read your plea from my home in Miami, grateful for the miraculous successes of the People of Israel as soldiers, scientists and scholars, whose inventiveness has touched every inch of our planet for the better.

I read your plea from my home in Miami, praying that our neighbors here can one day follow the example of Israel, recognizing that one tragedy is too many, living within a country that collectively searches, strives and struggles for answers to the most difficult questions, a nation that even in a dark, tumultuous sea, remains a light unto the nations far beyond any example the world has ever known.

About the Author
Seth Eisenberg is President of Purpose Built Families Foundation, a former At-Large chair of the National Writers Union, elected labor leader, and pro-Israel activist. He can be reached via LinkedIn at
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