My grandfather passed away in 2007 at age 95, but in college I recorded several conversations with him. He talked about the Depression and the desperation he and many Americans felt.
He talked about learning to box so he could defend himself against the neighborhood bullies who called him a Polish Jew. He talked about sneaking into gatherings in 1930s Milwaukee of a group called the The Bund, which were American Nazi sympathizers.
What happened in Charlottesville last week would not have surprised him. He lived through it once before. [Join with other Christians and Jews in this Facebook Group dedicated to fighting antisemitism.]
But it did surprise me. I grew up with little antisemitism. My application to seminary said the age of persecution was over, and Jewish life needed to focus on more positive engagement and inspiration.
I was naive. Antisemitism has reared its ugly head again. The Nazi symbols and signs proclaiming in Charlottesville “Jews will not replace us” scared me and my children.
I thank God for you—my readers and friends—who are committed to a different world. A world we can worship and live in freedom and respect. Our task is to help preserve that world our children and grandchildren.
Do we have grounds for hope? Well, our ultimate hope rests in God.
But I also take comfort from the Book of Genesis. It begins with an angry murder. Cain kills Abel. Later Jacob steals the birthright from his older brother Esau. Then Joseph’s brothers sell him into slavery.
Yet, at the end of the book of Genesis, Joseph and his brothers reconcile with one another. They forgive. They live in peace.
My hope is our country follows our similar path. What can you do now? Join this Facebook group to keep up with ways of fighting antisemitism. It is called, fittingly, Christians and Jews Fighting Antisemitism and is the first of its kind.
Do words have more power than we even imagine?
After Charlottesville: A Jewish Healing Prayer.
– I'm Katie Connors,
and here with the Faith Words
imprint of Hachette Book Group.
We have offices all over the world,
in New York and Nashville as well,
so we're coming from the Nashville office
and we have a guest with us today.
It's Rabbi Evan Moffic
of the Happiness Prayer.
As a child, I was very close with my grandfather. He grew up in Milwaukee, and was the first in his family to go to college.
After two and a half years in college, he entered medical school. He fought in World War II, came home and lived the American dream.
One day, when my parents were out of town and I was staying with him, and we got into talking about his life and career.
He started pulling outletters—boxes and boxes of letters. Now he lived in a small apartment, but he had saved all these boxes.
The word independence in Hebrew is etzma'ut. It is connected to the word etzem, which means bone. What is the connection between these two ideas—bones and independence?
The answer is found in writings of John Locke. He was the British political philosopher who most influenced Thomas Jefferson and America's other founding fathers.
Locke said property rights emerge out of our ownership of our bodies. Independence begins within our own bones.
From that truth emerges the idea of individual freedom. No one can enslave another human being because our bodies and the labor they produce belong to us.
A poor man was wandering from town to town with a heavy load of all his earthly possessions on his back.
A wagon driver saddled up next to him and offered to give him a ride to the next town. The relieved pauper complied.
After a few miles, the wagon driver stopped for a rest. He looked back into his wagon and saw that the man was still carrying the load on his back.
“Why are you still carrying your load? You can put it down in the wagon!”
This is one of my daily emails. You can sign up for them by texting the word ‘Jewish' to 33444.
Do you remember that old song: “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.” We need that reminder sometimes.
To really be happy, however, not worrying is not enough. Here’s a better song: “Be grateful. Be happy.”
Gratitude is the secret to happiness. It pushes away negative emotions. It is is impossible to feel grateful and angry at the same time.
It also makes us more present. Author Robert Holden points out, “The real gift of gratitude is that the more grateful you are, the more present you become.”
Just last week I was visiting someone in the hospital. The elevator stopped on almost every floor. At each stop someone wheeled in on a wheelchair, or was lifted in by orderlies on a gurney.