Once again, the threat is not a Jewish problem. It is a human problem
There are moments when we cannot be silent. When our voices need to be heard for Am Yisrael, Eretz Yisrael, for American Jewry and for America itself.
On October 6, 1943, three days before Yom Kippur, 400 Orthodox rabbis arrived in the nation’s capital to participate in a march calling attention to the plight of the Jews of Europe. It was the season of teshuvah and the time when our tefillos are best received, b’himatzo, yet these rabbanim chose to dedicate some of that sacred time to the decidedly nonspiritual activity of lobbying in Washington.
They understood that in this world we must raise our voices both to the heavens and to the humanly powerful. America was the country best positioned to stand up to the existential threat facing the Jewish People, and they needed to make every effort to raise their voices and activate its leadership. And, in the words of William Randolph Hearst, the threat was not a Jewish problem. It was a human problem.
Eighty years later, world Jewry faces what are arguably the most serious threats it has faced since the Holocaust. On October 7, Israel was brutally attacked, hundreds of its citizens taken hostage, and continues to face existential threats on multiple fronts. In America and the world over, the attacks and their aftermath unleashed a surging and shocking wave of anti-Semitism that has engulfed the universities and the streets of many of our cities, creating genuine fear for the future of the Jews in this blessed country. Jews have opened their hearts with extra tefillos after every minyan, via their WhatsApp chats, in the middle of their day’s work, and at innumerable communal tefillah gatherings. Along with tefillah, there has been an outpouring of tzedakah and meaningful teshuvah, reflecting on communal failures of machlokes and more. In a sense, the Yamim Noraim of 5784 have not yet ended.
Yet once again we need to interrupt our spiritual efforts and go to Washington. Once again, it is America that is best positioned to offer human protection and support the Jewish People, in both Israel and America. It has been doing so, but it needs to keep at it, and we need to make every effort to raise our voices and activate its leadership to act even more decisively. We cannot be silent. Once again, the threat is not a Jewish problem. It is a human problem.
On Tuesday, November 14, at 1 p.m., on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., there will be a mass rally in support of the Jews of Israel and America and insisting on freedom for the hundreds held hostage. Tens of thousands of voices will be raised in unison to stand for truth and for life and to chase away the darkness that has been spreading over our world. We all need to be there.
Anu ratzim v’heim ratzim. We march and others march. The streets of Washington — like the streets of every major city — have played host to many protestors in the past month. But we will march differently from them. Ours will not be a call for death or elimination, but a plea for life and peace. While others filled the streets with ugliness and bloodcurdling chants calling for our extermination, “from the river to the sea,” we will advocate for life and peace, for the freedom of innocent hostages, for Israel’s right to defend itself from those who continuously seek to destroy it, and for the freedom to live in this country without hatred and threats.
The kol Yaakov, the Jewish voice, has been defined and refined by hours of humble prayer to Hashem. That same voice, when raised toward the human powers that be, will do so with firm resolve and with its characteristically humble refinement. We will raise our eyes to Hashem and our voices to man and we will daven with all our hearts that our efforts be effective, that Hashem will direct the hearts of the leaders of this country to show compassion and respect to the Jews of America and to the government of Israel, allowing us all to live in safety and security, u’va l’Tziyon go’eil v’nomar amein.
Rabbi Moshe Hauer is the executive vice president of the Orthodox Union.
(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 985)
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