Monday, March 21, 2016

Being Esther

March 21st, 2016 is drawing to a close.  Used to be this was the first day of spring, but we're too scientifically advanced for that now. It was also FIL's birthday....he would've been 95 today. I called his brother, Uncle Erv, this evening. I wanted him to know we hadn't forgotten it was Franny's birthday. 

And FIL would've been going crazy from the news. I would've been walking into Rant o'Sieg every night because he would've spent the day listening to the radio. This campaign would've sent him over the edge. I'm almost relieved he's not here to hear it. 

Today, the candidate parade was over at AIPAC. For the record, and let me be perfectly, bluntly clear about this, I am an ardent supporter of the state of Israel. I'm not going to write about that, only to say that I still toy with the idea of making aliyah one day. I believe in Israel's right to be in Israel, and that we are no Johnny-come-lately to the scene. We've been there continuously for over 4.000 years despite endless efforts to move us off our land. 

Now that we have that out of the way, I will also admit that I am not a fan or supporter of AIPAC or J-Street. I pretty much believe all lobbyist groups are tainted and should not exist. They are power brokers and I don't care for power being brokered by anyone. They are created to manipulate, not seek out the will of We, the People. Even when you hear the word lobbyist, you cringe. You think of the NRA, the oil lobby, big pharma. You know exactly what mean. And none of it's pleasant. 

On the other hand AIPAC is a big deal in the Jewish community. I understand that a lot of people think AIPAC speaks for all American Jews; it does not. I get why the presidential candidates speak at AIPAC. I think it's absurd, but I get it. There are those that will tell you that the strong relationship between the US government and AIPAC is fundamental in helping to protect Israel. There are others that will tell you AIPAC aids and abets a seriously flawed Israeli government that is undermining Israel's relationship with the rest of the world. There is great disagreement about whether or not AIPAC is a viable spokes-organ for the Jewish community at large. 

In its attempt to be relevant, AIPAC hosts a candidate forum. The major party candidates book appearance time. This year, those attending included Hillary Clinton, Ted Cruz, John Kasich, and Donald Trump. They all pandered to the lobby. They all forcefully declared their pro-Israel stance. Trump fed the gathering his usual line of bull-oney, and ended it by reminding the crowd, “My daughter Ivanka is about to have a beautiful Jewish baby.” I don't think Secretary Clinton happened to mention her daughter also married Jewish. Still, this must be the new version of, "Some of my best friends are Jewish." Frankly, I think they all fed whatever lines needed to be fed, and I really don't believe any of them, anyway.  

A group of rabbis, including my own, Rabbi Morris Allen, formed a group called COME TOGETHER AGAINST HATE and planned a walkout on Donald Trump's speech. The issue was not policy, it was not about positions, it was about the campaign itself. As Rabbi Allen said at the rally:
We are here right now because in truth we are also people who cannot and will not tolerate hatred, misogyny, racism, Islamaphobia, anti-Semitism, and calls to violence as a means for reaching the highest office in the land and perhaps the most powerful position in the world.
No matter what you think about AIPAC, Rabbi Allen is spot on. We speak volumes even in our silence, and if we do not stand up as a unified front against the hate being fomented at the campaign level, we are no better than the ones who stood in silence in 1932. 

When I was a kid, we used to tell each other we would never have let the Nazis drag us away or put us in camps. We talked about how we would fight back. When I watched SCHINDLER'S LIST with my sons, I silently wondered if my boys would have been resourceful enough to survive. Now I am a savta with a granddaughter, and suddenly I am worrying about what happens if.....

Wednesday night is the holiday of Purim, when we read the Book of Esther. Here's a story about one woman who could have easily remained silent and did not. Whether she was bullied into approaching her husband by her Uncle Mordechai, or if she really was the heroine we want her to be, it does not matter. In the end, she stands up against hatred.  

Perhaps, instead of dressing up as Esther this year, we should work on being Esther. Let us all stand up and say, NO to hatred, misogyny, racism, Islamaphobia, and anti-Semitism. 

The time to be counted is now, not when we are scrambling for passports. 

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
Wanna read a good book, and a different take on Esther, read this:
I highly recommend it.

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