What he should have said
In “The speech President Trump should give on Charlottesville” (August 18), Shmuley Boteach writes wishfully about what Donald Trump should have said. I found his column amusing at best, and pointless at worst.
In the spirit of putting words into other people’s mouths, here is what Shmuley should have said about Donald Trump, Charlottesville, and recent events.
“I, Shmuley, am a resident of Chelm. I backed the wrong horse in the election. I have now come to understand the error of my ways. No Jew on earth, including me, should take the side of a bigot who surrounds himself with racists, anti-Semites, white supremacists and neo-Nazis.
“I beg forgiveness from my fellow Jews for having committed this error in moral judgment, for trampling on the memory of the Shoah, and for not remembering the injunction to blot out the memory of Amalek. Now, as I enter the month of Elul, I pledge to start atoning for my errors. With Yom Kippur near, I promise to be a better, more moral, human being. It is a vow before Hashem.
“Oh and by the way, I wholeheartedly endorse Josh Gottheimer and will also try to tear down the fences that separate me from my former friend, Senator Cory Booker. Life is too short for adding more hatred and disrespect to this world.”
This letter-writer never expects to see those words emerge from the pen of Shmuley Boteach. Neither should Rabbi Boteach expect to see Donald Trump say, write, or tweet any other kind of non-hate speech, or demonstrate any sort of common decency. Trump can no more change his behavior than a leopard can lose its spots.
But one can continue to hope that a Jewish spiritual leader can do better, and follow the ways of Torah, Rabbeinu Moshe, Amos, Isaiah, Hillel and so many other sages. We, the Or l’Goyim, must be able to discern the light from the darkness.
Seeing what’s coming
I do not seen enough progress in stopping the obvious and insidious seeping of anti-Semitism into this country, let alone in the world. I do not see dramatic measures being taken toward the perpetrators of this sickness. Apparently, those who have forgotten history or just belittle what happened to the six million who perished at the hands of the Nazi regime do not care.
Who will take the steps necessary to obliterate the rise of so much hate? Our government is not an asset to the Jews. Our Jewish organizations have not yet taken to the streets. Our individual Jews have not raised a voice strong enough to be heard. In fact, like so many I know, they are a bit embarrassed by the displays of anti-Semitism and do not acknowledge it as directed at them, but at the “others.” Sounds familiar to me. This was exactly the experience of Jews living in Germany at the time when it all began, much in the same way.
I am not saying anything new. That’s what you are thinking. But I am a step further and fear the events of today’s world as huge warnings to all of us. As portents of what will come if there is no dampening of their actions and words. Yes, we live in a nation of free speech. But perhaps we should rethink this. Hasn’t anyone learned yet about the power of masses of people reciting slogans that they don’t even understand? That even if explained would be futile? Remember Hitler youth. Those young boys and girls who were taught hate and grew up to be soldiers of the Reich.
What can we do? Certainly not sit around waiting for the next march or rally. Being more prepared for how to handle their words, how protest before another event such as the one in Charlottesville. Maybe to alter the language of the right to free speech.
I don’t know. I am not a political person, but I do remember and shudder at the things my mother told me that happened before she fled Germany. And I wonder what gave her the courage to flee at 19, and in turn to save many of her family. She, at least, understood what was coming.
Sandra Steuer Cohen