Nazis in the Streets-We've Seen This Before..

August 18, 2017
Education Is the Key
Now more than ever, the Leo Martin March of the Living stands as a potent and proven means to educate our youth about their role as witnesses to the horrors of Nazism, the significance of the State of Israel, and the necessity to not just study but live Jewish values.

Now more than ever, every Jewish high school senior should hear survivor testimonies and be empowered to become upstanders, rather than bystanders, in a United States where white supremacists and neo-Nazis are openly carrying torches through our streets, shouting the Nazi rally cry "Blood and Soil," and threatening the local synagogue and its members as they prayed on Shabbat.

Now more than ever, education is the key to ensuring our Jewish future.

Due to Israel's 70th anniversary celebration, the International March of the Living has limited the number of spaces for community participation. This year there are only 100 spots available for high school seniors and juniors on Miami's Leo Martin March of the Living.
  • Two-week educational experience for Jewish 11th & 12th graders that begins in Miami with pre-march sessions to prepare students for the experience.

  • Travel to Poland and Israel in order to study the history of the Holocaust and examine the roots of prejudice, intolerance and hate.

  • Students will participate in Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Remembrance)  three-kilometer March from Auschwitz to Birkenau as a silent tribute to victims of the Shoah.
  • Students will observe Yom Ha'zikaron (Israel's Memorial Day) and celebrate Yom Ha'atzmaut (Israel's Independence Day) while they are in Israel.

In Case You Missed This 
(Sent Out Tuesday 8/15)
A Statement From the Greater Miami Jewish Federation
Following Violence in Charlottesville, Virginia

On behalf the Officers, Board and Staff of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation, we decry the despicable and lethal acts of hatred perpetrated in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday, August 12, 2017.

The bigoted, racist and anti-Semitic rhetoric spewed by white supremacists, armed militia members, neo-Nazis and other extremist groups incited violence that resulted in the tragic and senseless death of an innocent 32-year-old woman and the injury of dozens of others. Two Virginia state troopers working in response to the violence also died when their helicopter crashed near the scene of the white nationalist rally.

Vile chants of the German Nazi rallying cry "blood and soil" - which refers to an ideology of ethnic purity - echo historical events that are chilling, as do flags with swastikas and anti-Semitic banners that were seen throughout the crowd. 

Such poisonous acts of hatred, bigotry, racism and anti-Semitism must be condemned by all people of good will, and such behavior must not be tolerated under any circumstances in a free, democratic society. History has taught us all too well how extreme and hateful language leads to unbridled violence. We must commit ourselves to be unequivocal in condemning the groups responsible for such behavior and to be equally tireless in promoting tolerance, respect and understanding - hallmarks of our most deeply held and cherished American values.

Federation offers our deepest condolences to the families of those who died, and we wish all of those injured in Charlottesville a speedy and full recovery.

You Must Watch This and Share It
This 4 minute video below was made by the United States government in 1947 in order to fight racism, anti-Catholicism and hatred of "foreigners." 70 years later - it seems all too timely and relevant.

This powerful and chilling 30 minute video below was made by Vice News, who embedded a reporter within the "Unite the Right" rally and its organizers. In it you will hear the anti-Semitism and racism as the marchers carry their torches and chant as well as hear them during and after the Charlottesville protest. Watch all the way through-we all need to know who is out there. Warning: The video contains profanity (beyond the racist, anti-Semitic screed...)
#themorethingschange #willweeverlearn #dontstandidlyby

Words of Wisdom 
by Rabbi Efrat Zarren-Zohar

When Gene Greenzweig (z"l), and so many others here in Miami and around the world, developed the March of the Living, they did so because they believed, as I do, in the power of education to transform people and their paths in life.

We may not be able to influence the haters or change their path (as we sadly heard from the history teacher who taught James Alex Fields Jr., accused of running over marchers at the Charlottesville protest). But we can influence our own Jewish youth to be able to stand up and get involved whenever hatred rears its ugly face.

I feel blessed to be part of an organization like CAJE that adds real value to our community through the educational work we do every day -- the initiatives we undertake with schools in transforming teaching and learning to programs like the Leo Martin March of the Living for our youth. Never has it felt more urgent and important to be working to educate the next generation.

This week's parasha is entitled Re'eh (from the first word of the portion), meaning "See!" So much of our life is influenced by how and what we see, and what we allow ourselves to see.

The Holy One states: "See, this day I set before you blessing and curse..." (Devarim/ Deuteronomy 11:26) and it's all about discerning which one to choose. If we choose to follow G!D's path, then there is blessing. And if not, there is curse.

In our country, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution are the secular versions of Torah and Talmud. They are the basis for how we, as citizens, should live our lives, and the basis for all the laws of our nation. When we live up to their ideals, there is blessing. And when we don't, there is curse. Charlottesville and the lack of clear condemnation by those elected to lead us is a potent demonstration of it.

If you watched the 4 minute video I suggested above (made in 1947 by the US government and still timely 70 years later...perhaps the government itself will want to watch it!) you will hear the following compelling statement:

"They [the Nazis] knew they weren't strong enough to conquer a unified country, so they split Germany into small groups. They used prejudice as a practical weapon to cripple the nation... you see, we human beings are not born with prejudices. Always, they are made for us, made by someone who wants something. Remember that when you hear this kind of talk. Somebody is going to get something out of it, and it isn't going to be you."

We are now witnessing how hate groups are encouraged to feel powerful and free to recruit, publicize and spread their beliefs when they don't hear an unequivocal message stopping them.

We now can see how the blessing of free speech can become a curse if it isn't used wisely.

In our parsha, G!D states multiple times that we must destroy idolatry in every way possible-"tear down their altars, smash their pillars, put their sacred posts to the fire, and cut down the images of their gods, obliterating their name from that site."(Devarim/ Deuteronomy 12:3)

Why is G!D so vehement against idolatry? So what if people worship a pillar or an image?

Because idolatry is essentially a worship of self- something that looks like you (idols never seem to look like some other ethnic group, do they?) or of the physical. And worshipping the physical, the material, is problematic because it is limited and morally neutral. The sun can be harmful, but it's not evil. The lion might kill a gazelle, but it's not considered murder, because it's not evil.

We human beings are given a gift by the Holy One- the ability to rise above nature and the physical in order to achieve the spiritual, the immaterial, the eternal. Only on that plane of being, do the following words make sense: "And G!D created humanity in His image, in the image of G!D He created it; male and female He created them." (Bereisheet/ Genesis 1:27) And similarly, only on that plane of being, do the following words make sense: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights..."

Because it is patently obvious that all men are not in fact created equal. You may be smarter than me. I may be stronger than you. And so forth....  Where then are these words true?

Only in the spiritual realm-- on the intangible plane of existence-- do these words hold true. And that is where religion/ spirituality has such an important and powerful role to play. If we don't believe in the intangible at all, then we won't be able to believe and live according to the essential words above.

My heartfelt prayers go out to the family of Heather Heyer, whose tragic death gave all of us a wake-up call about the hate in our midst and our need to stand up and protest it as she did. May she, and all those who die protecting and defending our Constitution and the ideals of our country, be remembered for a blessing.
Shabbat Shalom.



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