Once again we are mourning and raging after an anti-Semitic attack on a synagogue over the weekend. I have been and remain determined not to give any anti-Semite the victory they want in any way. Whenever they want to push us out of society, whenever they want us to be too afraid to gather in our places, or to live our lives as Jews out in the open, whenever they want us to feel that we do not belong, we say that is they who do not belong. It is they who are doing wrong and evil. Our place is wherever we chose to live, in South Africa, in Germany, in Australia … and in Israel. Every time an anti-Semite shows his or her face, we and ten or a hundred or a thousand of our friends and allies come to counter them.
Last week and the upcoming week are dedicated to the memory of those of our people who perished in the Shoah, and who fought in the many wars to establish and protect the modern state of Israel. We restore the dignity of those who have been dehumanised by the Nazis and we honour those who stood up to protect our Jewish values and heritage. BUT, most important, we keep the promise given to them, to never forget.
Our Torah portion for this week opens with the following, beautiful words: “You shall be holy, for I, the Eternal your God, am holy (Lev. 19.2)”. What follows is not only a set of ritual obligations or ceremonies, but mainly a codex of ethical guidelines. Being holy means to be conscious of what we do and how we do things. This is even more important in times when the world seems to lose its own compass, when terror, fundamentalism and populism is shaping the reality in which we are living.
Friends, this must not be our future—you—we have it in our hands to counter this: it is our obligation to bring holiness into our world and to create a future that is less frightening. Please vote on Wednesday, strengthen our democracy by making your voice heard, and continue to stand with us when evil shows its ugly face.
Our Torah portion mentions love several times. So, let love be our answer.
May this Shabbat be filled with love, for you, our people and the whole world.
Shabbat Shalom – Rabbi Adrian M Schell