With the end of the first days of Pesach, the world news is very distressing. First it began with the bombing of a large Christian cathedral in Colombo, capital of the Bhuddist nation of Sri Lanka, formerly Ceylon. Hundreds of Christian worshippers were killed and several hundred more wounded. They came to the cathedral to pray on Easter Sunday and there they met death. No one knows at this time who was responsible for the heinous crime. Tamils are suspected without evidence. Muslims are not suspected. Muslim leaders in Sri Lanka condemned the tragic slaughter of Christian worshippers.
Israel has offered help to Sri Lanka but as yet there has been no formal reply from that country.
We Israelis are sadly acquainted with such tragic bombings and suicide attacks. We feel for the pain of the families of the dead as we also pray for the survival of the severely wounded.
Easter, commemorating the resurrection from the dead of the crucified Jew, Jesus of Nazareth, is a holy day to Christians of all denominations. And this day will be remembered as the slaughter of Christians in far away Sri Lanka.
Moving to another part of the world, Ukraine, that European country shares one thing in common with Israel. Both nations have Jewish presidents and Jewish prime ministers. An unusual coincidence.
Ukraine has a long history regarding Jews. Lots of good memories of famous Jewish scholars, rabbis and renowned authors and writers. It also has too many bitter memories of anti-Semitism, of pogroms, massacres of Jews, and cooperation with Nazi occupiers.
Who among us does not remember the history of the 17th century pogrom, the massacre of thousands of Jews led by the Ukrainian national hero, Bogdan Chmielnicki. Jewish blood covered the streets of Ukrainian towns and villages. Jewish bodies were left to rot in muddy streets. Virtual cities of slaughter!
Chmielnicki is revered today as a Ukrainian patriot and his statues abound in cities throughout the Ukraine. During the Nazi occupation of Ukraine, thousands of Ukrainian police rounded up Jews and handed them over to the Nazis for shipment to Auschwitz, gas chambers, and fiery ovens. Ukraine does not have a pleasant place in the hearts of Jews.
It is therefore intensely surprising that the country recently gave 73% of its votes to a Jewish comedian who was elected prime minister, an honor he can share with Ukraine’s Jewish president.
Coincidences…. Who knows? Ukrainians have not suddenly become lovers of the Jewish people. Underneath it, there must be a reason. Perhaps to encourage Jews to seek economic support from the United States and/or better trade agreements for weapons and planes from Israel. The future will reveal the real truth.
As for chutzpah (boldness, nerviness), no country excels more than Israel. In order to join the not-yet-formed coalition, candidate Bezalel Smotrich has put forth his demands and terms prior to agreeing to join the new coalition government.
He has not asked for a ministerial position in the Cabinet. No. Instead he has made demands. Not only one demand but two. He demands two ministries… education and justice.
God forbid that he should get either. It would be a disaster for Israel. His “education” policies are in conflict with the current education system which has produced tens of thousands of bright students and scholars who have made great contributions in all areas of our society.
His “justice” ministry would be an injustice to our society. He has grievances with our judges, magistrates and Supreme Court justices and his intention is to take away from them the power to make decisions which may impinge upon the political parties’ agendas in the Knesset.
He wants to do what Ayelet Shaked, former Minister of Justice, threatened to do.
Our Supreme Court represents and uphold the highest moral and ethical standards in our country and must be left untouched by boorish politicians who have no complete understanding of basic laws.
In the past few days we have been sad witnesses to terror, coincidence, and chutzpah. In a few more days, as Pesach is concluded, we recite the Yizkor prayer in memory of our deceased loved ones.
In addition to family members and friends, this Pesach we need to add prayers in memory of the death of Israel’s democracy. Terribly sad. Regrettably true.