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October 1, 2014 / 7 Tishri, 5775
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How Do We Understand It?


Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

I have been on the road non-stop. Different countries, different languages… but in every place that Hashem grants me the privilege of speaking, it is to my people that I speak. A special language connects us that transcends all difficulties, overcomes all barriers – the language of the heart. That language is part of our Jewish DNA. Hashem Himself engraved it in our souls – it speaks more powerfully than any words and brings tears to even the most hardened, alienated eyes.

But recently, in addition to speaking, I have also had the zechus of sharing with audiences my film, “Triumph of the Spirit,” that depicts my experiences during the Holocaust and in concentration camp. I have witnessed the veracity of the teachings of our sages: “You can’t compare that which you hear to that which you actually see with your own eyes, ” and indeed, the impact of the film has been electrifying.

Normally, Holocaust films leave one depressed or in a negative, angry state of mind. This film however, is different, and the reason is that instead of focusing only on the brutality of that horrific time, it highlights the indomitable faith of our people that burns more powerfully than the fires of the crematoria. The film imparts a message that charges the viewer, with the mandate of “Zachor – Remember!”

More importantly, it inspires us to live by the legacy of our holy martyrs and to follow in the footsteps of our forefathers. While the response of the Jewish community has been phenomenal, this past week, we had the honor of screening it in a different venue, the beautiful theater of the Capitol in Washington, DC.

That evening, we honored three distinguished individuals who have made “remembering” their life commitment: Director of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Sara Bloomfield; Chairman of the Museum, Fred Zeidman; and the devoted eishes chayil of Senator Joe Lieberman, Hadassah Lieberman, who, as the child of survivors has made “remembering” not only a commitment, but a lifetime legacy.

While most agree that remembering is vital, many would argue that anti-Semitism is a thing of the past. We must remember because that is our mandate, but not because there is any danger of history repeating itself.

Yet our Passover Haggadah reminds us that anti-Semitism will never cease until Moshiach comes: “In every generation, there will be those who rise up against us, and the Almighty G-d always saves us from their clutches.”

Skeptics may smile and assure themselves that these predictions are no longer valid. “Yes,” they will concede, “they may have held true for previous generations, but in our enlightened 21st century, Jew-baiting is no longer a reality.”

The anti-Semite, however, always finds a way to package his venom – a way that renders it marketable for mass consumption. So today’s anti-Semite will loudly protest that he has no bias against Jews and that some of his best friends are Jews. It is Zionism – Israel that is the problem.

With that rationale, he legitimizes his hatred and finds acceptance even in solid Jewish circles. After all, he argues, one can have differences with Israel without being anti-Semitic, and his arguments fall on willing ears. There are always those among us who are anxious to deny the reality of anti-Semitism and the danger it represents to our people. Thus, by wishing it away, they hope that it will disappear.

Nowadays, it is not only Israel that provides the anti-Semite with his cover. It is also buttressed by many other unfolding events – the ongoing financial scandals in which Jewish names are prominently highlighted…. monetary aid that Israel receives while the U.S. is suffering from unemployment and a great recession (never mind that other nations receive even more aid)…. and the age-old accusation of dual loyalty.

Moreover, anti-Semitic politicians contend that Israel obstructs peace. If not for Israel, all would be well with the world and peace could be attained. For years, the hate-mongers have portrayed Israel as an apartheid state and the IDF as a Nazi-like army. But now, these arguments are falling on fertile ground, and perhaps most damaging of all, are self-hating Jews, who are happy to legitimize the demonization of their own people and land.

So it is that today, we see America and most of the world giving a token slap on the wrist to Ahmadinejad, who unabashedly admits that he plans to nuke Israel and G-d forbid, wipe her off the map, and at the same time, strong-arm Israel and demand that she deport her citizens from their homes and villages in Judea and Samaria and make East Jerusalem the capital of the Palestinians. In the history of mankind, such demands have never been made of a sovereign nation, but Israel is pressured into making such concessions and no one protests.

Tragically, this is not new. From the moment the State of Israel was born, the Arabs made no secret of their intention to inflict a new Holocaust on Israel. No nation on earth has had to confront as many wars and terrorist attacks in the span of a few years as the State of Israel. All this has come to pass, and the world has not only remained silent, but time and again, it has chosen to condemn Israel in the “august” halls of the UN.

Yes, terrorist, rogue nations, and brutal dictators have the audacity to censure Israel – the only democracy in the middle east, and if not for the veto of the United States sanctions would have been applied against the Jewish state many times.

Sadly, the climate in Washington is swiftly changing. Brzezinsky, known from the days of Jimmy Carter for his hateful stance against Israel, is once again in a position to influence foreign policy as are many other Anti-Israel spokespeople.

There are other manifestations that the world is upside-down. Who would have believed that tsunamis, earthquakes, floods, and volcanoes would play havoc with our lives? As of this writing, much of Europe is enveloped in ashes, and air traffic is virtually paralyzed.

The message is clear. Modern man, with all his technological know-how, and trust in education and dialogue, stands helpless and paralyzed. The icons in which he placed his trust are disintegrating. There is a higher Master in the world in charge of our lives, Who reminds us, “There is no One but Him,” a simple, basic truth that we, who belong to “Ikvesa D’Moshicha,” the generation that will precede the coming of Messiah, must acknowledge before the geulah can come.

We, the Jewish people, who have been designated to be G-d’s witnesses here on earth must be the first to make that proclamation, and it is we who must bear living testimony to this eternal truth.

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