I recently learned about the significance of unity in the history of Israel. I learned about a time in which our people were so interconnected, their essences so deeply interlaced that they were able to stand as one.
Today, I was saddened to read of the increased divisiveness between us. It required 500 Israeli policeman to separate us from hurting one another with hateful words and perhaps fists as well… I would imagine that amongst the men and women standing on their equal side of the barrier are parents, community leaders, educators… Is this this lesson that we want to teach our children? Is this what we want to see gracing the front covers of our newspapers?
I don’t proclaim to have the right answer, nor am I by any means an expert on either perspective related to this religious debate gone wrong. I do however, firmly believe that we as human beings are blessed with the ability to speak. To acknowledge our feelings, to acknowledge those of our antagonist, and to proceed with a civil discourse. Is that no longer possible? Must we engage in such acts of provocation and seething fury?
It has become disparaging to read about the increase in anti-Semitism in Europe and then this plethora of distressing incidents amongst Jews in Israel, at the Kotel. It is as though we have inhaled a putrid smoke of self-hatred that bellows around, above, within it all. It envelopes our thoughts; it shepherds our steps as we broaden the ravine between us.
What I find most consoling is that on Monday morning, I will walk into a space that promotes dignity and tolerance, and I will get to witness civil discourse not just in words, but action.
This past Yom Hashoa, I attended a program and service facilitated by two students, a male and female. He is an orthodox Jew, she wears a tallit. Together, they honored those who perished in the blind hate. They conjured a community, connected by the commonality of its nature. Countless times, I have seen them display unilateral respect and love for one another, and their peers. One may argue, that youth embodies naivete, allowing for such solidarity. In light of recent events, this ability to connect, to rise above differences of perspective, is not only refreshing, it offers me hope.
It is possible. We can retain and uphold the notion that the Kotel is intended for us all, this world is intended for us all. We must expel this polluted vapor and allow our children to stand together, as one.