Steven Fine
Churgin Professor of Jewish History, Yeshiva University

Trump, Torah and George Floyd

Moses HoldIn a Torah Scroll High, Dura Europos synagogue, ca. 245 CE.

Each week, we Jews rise to our feet in our beloved synagogues, as the scroll of the Torah is raised above our heads majestically. Each and every one of us, every person present, looks up toward the open scroll and its sacred letters. Some point at it lovingly.

Everyone exclaims together: וזאת התורה אשר שם משה לפני בני ישראל על פי ה׳— ״. “THIS is the Torah that Moses set before the people of Israel, by the word of God.” This is our past and our future, our connection to our earliest national memories, and to our greatest hopes. This is our tie to Creation and to Revelation, to Destiny and to one another.

Days before our precious festival of the Giving of the Torah, Shavuot, the Bible was desecrated by Donald Trump and his small “minyan” of followers.

Trump chased peaceful protesters away from a place of the Bible,
People rightfully horrified by murder, racism and demagoguery were hurled from side to side and dispersed with harshness and bull horns and tear gas.

Trump then stood in the middle of a band his followers, flanking him from side to side, and with a face projecting what he thought was resolve, raised a Bible in the air.

Trump took a Holy Bible, and held it high as a symbol of his own power— a cheap photo-op. Trump perverted the holy, and shamed the Word of the Holy One, blessed be he.

We Americans will overcome Trump— with our sacred books raised high. We will return to our synagogues, and churches and mosques and community centers— and to the streets of our beloved cities and towns.

As Mattathias the Maccabee exclaimed so many centuries ago, “It is time to act for the Lord, they have profaned your Torah” (Psalm 119).

May the memory of George Floyd be a blessing to us all.

About the Author
Steven Fine is a cultural historian, specializing in Jewish history in the Greco-Roman period. He focuses upon the literature, art and archaeology of ancient Judaism, and the ways that modern scholars have interpreted Jewish antiquity. His most recent book is: -The Menorah: From the Bible to Modern Israel (Harvard UP, 2016).- Fine is the Dean Pinkhos Churgin Professor of Jewish History at Yeshiva University, director of the YU Center for Israel Studies, the Arch of Titus Project, and the YU Samaritan Israelites Project.
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