While we typically have worked on matters in other countries, what happened on Jan. 6 in our nation’s Capitol is one that requires our attention. I’ve struggled to find the words and sentiments that describe how deeply to our core this has shaken us as individuals and communally. As I’ve reflected on it, there are two concepts that best capture the horror that was perpetrated not only by reckless individuals but also by leaders who incited them.
The first is sinat chinam, Hebrew for baseless hatred. As Jews, we talk most about this when reflecting on the destruction of the first and second temples, which represented the implosion of our community at two different points in history. What led to this implosion were false narratives, hateful speech and dangerous speech perpetuated by leaders in our community. Hate speech and dangerous speech is not new, but it has sadly become more commonplace in this country. Wednesday’s violence in our temple of Democracy represents an inflection point where we can continue to attack one another or take action to repair wounds that feel all too fresh.
The second principle is shtikah k’hodaah, meaning that silence is akin to complicity.
The attempted insurrection that was incited on Wednesday afternoon did not happen overnight. Its roots were planted by those in power who perpetuated hate, division and violence and sown by silence and complicity. If you were outraged by the rampant violence in Washington, D.C., by the shirts that read “Camp Auschwitz” and “6MWE” (six million was not enough) or those who waved Confederate flags through the halls of Congress, you are not alone. What we do next will define us for years to come and, as part of JWW, we have an obligation to not just speak out against injustice but to act.
As Americans, we have the capacity to fight global injustice; as Jews, we have the responsibility. Jewish World Watch exists at that intersection and we cannot do that without you. Please sign up to serve on one of our committees (outreach, education, advocacy, communication and development) today to continue to fight intolerance and create a more just world.
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