Jews Standing Up for Ourselves…Because So Few Others Do

People hold signs of support near the house of Rabbi Chaim Rottenberg on December 29, 2019 in Monsey, New York. (Photo by Kena Betancur / AFP)
Photo Credit: Kena Betancur

This Sunday there will be a Solidarity March in New York; it is a response to the terrible wave of anti-Semitic violence taking place in our nation. 
I remember when I was in Rabbinical School that I attended a march in Washington, DC, in solidarity with Soviet Jews.  Little did we know at the time that communism would fall in a few years and that hundreds of thousands of Soviet Jews would be emigrating.  I also recall participating in rallies in support of political and social justice causes that did not directly affect me but that I felt were important to our society.  I even brought my kids with me or made sure they knew about it; this kind of behavior reflected some of the best of what Judaism teaches.
It seems so strange that after Jews (and the organized Jewish Community) have marched and rallied and lobbied for decades on behalf of others we must now join together in order to protect ourselves.  I sincerely hope that just as we have stood up for others, others will stand up for us.
These are trying times.  We cannot be silent.  At the same time we cannot allow ourselves to be divided; this is precisely what anti-Semites want.  We cannot accuse others within the Jewish community of supporting the “wrong” political party; our tradition tells us that this kind of behavior brought about the destruction of the Second Temple.  We must focus on what unites us.
Unfortunately, I will not be able to make it to New York on Sunday.  Rest assured, though, there will be many opportunities to stand up and stand together–not just for ourselves but for others who are persecuted as well.  The struggle, I fear, is only just beginning.