45 years ago, when I was a rabbinical student, I remember talking with friends about whether the holocaust could happen in North America. At that time the holocaust as an academic subject was just coming into its own. Indeed, it was men and women of my generation who have written the history of that horrendous event in Jewish and world history.
I remember thinking that it was unlikely that it could happen here. Most of us had experienced little if any overt anti-Jewish hate. Opportunities for Jewish people were wide open for us. At the time, it seemed unlikely that Jews in America would have to be afraid of being discriminated against or persecuted.
But I also remember saying that the situation could change if the political and cultural leaders of our society did not denounce any overt or indirect expression of Jew hatred.
Sadly, what I feared might happen has occurred. Political and some cultural leaders have signaled their support to those who harbor racist or anti-Semitic thoughts. While formally condemning racism or anti-Semitism, they then turn around and blame prominent Jews or prominent African-Americans for the nation’s troubles.
How else can we explain that George Soros routinely is signaled out for sponsoring the Central American caravan, for funding women who have been sexually abused, or for being a globalist?
How else explain the pushback against African-Americans who have stood up to police violence directed against unarmed black men?
How else explain demonizing poor unarmed Central American refugees as an “invading army?”
We really have one and only one choice: we need to vote into office leaders who will unequivocally denounce racism, anti-Semitism, and hatred of refugees.
We need to elect leaders who will not scapegoat others for the real problems that we all face.
We need to elect leaders who will try to heal the bitter divisions in our country.
On November 6: Vote. There is no other way.
Rabbi Charles Feinberg