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The Cornerstone of a Better World

March 3, 2017
 
What confusing times we live in. Intolerance is bubbling up. The rising statistics on hate crimes are sobering, disturbing and heartbreaking. 
 
Two Indian men shot in Kansas. A mosque burned in Tampa. A subway car covered in swastikas in New York City. Muslim women in hijabs, and Sikh men wearing turbans verbally abused and physically assaulted. Waves of bomb threats launched against Jewish Community Centers and day schools. Jewish cemeteries desecrated, in St. Louis and Philadelphia,
 
Religious traditions teach that actions should build up our world, and reach toward the divine. These hateful actions aim to tear down our world; they point not toward Mekor Hahayim, the Source of Creation, but toward our basest impulses. 
 
Yet in the overwhelming responses, we’ve seen the best in humanity. Subway riders, using tissues and hand sanitizer, immediately cleaning up the swastikas. Muslims and Christians joining Jews to restore the headstones of the vandalized cemeteries. 
 
There are condemnations to be made, and actions to be taken—actions that demonstrate our highest Jewish values, that empower us to repair the world, and to help others do the same.
 
We see authorities condemning these hate crimes, working to find the perpetrators and prevent future occurrences. But condemnation and action must also come from the highest office in this land. The lack of empathy extending from the Oval Office makes a bad situation worse. Despite his welcome and belated condemnation of hate and anti-Semitism in his joint address to Congress, it is clear that our president fails to understand how his actions and inactions fomented this environment. In this vacuum of leadership, the responsibilities fall to us.
 
In these dark and challenging moments, we must create as much light as we can. We have to walk arm in arm with members of other faiths, especially American Muslims, people of color and the LGBTQ community, most especially trans people, who have been singled out by this administration. 
 
 As the psalms teach, olam hesed yibaneh. The world is built from love. Let us continue to build.