A Sabbath Message: The Ancient and Resilient Virus of Anti-Semitism

In this week’s Torah portion, Yitro, the Israelites continue their journey across the Sinai Desert. Jethro, a Midianite priest and Moses’s father-in-law, advises Moses to delegate leadership roles in order not to tire himself out. Moses follows Jethro's advice and appoints judges to help him lead the people.

Moses could have rejected his father-in-law’s advice. After all, what does a Midianite priest know about our community? Moses teaches us that our meeting with “the Other” can be beneficial for our growth and survival. Outside perspectives can help us see what is possible and act accordingly. How do we navigate reaching out and welcoming in a way that enhances rather than jeopardizes our community?

Last Saturday we watched in horror as Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker and three other people were held hostage at Congregation Beth Israel. Rabbi Cytron-Walker had invited the man in for a cup of tea. In a subsequent interview, Rabbi Cytron-Walker mentioned the training he received from the Secure Community Network (SCN) and ADL. He said that the tools he received from this training enabled him to free himself and the other hostages from the situation.

We will be working with SCN to plan and implement security trainings for our community.

In light of this week’s Parsha, maybe we should reach out to clergy and leaders of other religious organizations to discuss ways we can join forces to combat anti-Semitism.

We also need to expand and grow our education programs by inviting the few Holocaust survivors left to meet with students in our community and share their experiences and thoughts on the current forms of violence against Jews. We at the Jewish Federation are currently working to expand these efforts.

Shabbat Shalom,

Itzik Ben-Sasson
Camp Haverim Executive Director