Viewpoint: Fighting Baseless Hatred

By Rabbi Carrie Vogel
Special to the Palisades News

In the Talmud, our sages question why God decided to create one set of common ancestors for all humanity (Adam and Eve). Their response was, “For the sake of peace among all peoples, so that no person can say to his friend, ‘My father is better than your father.’” (Sanhedrin 37a).

Our sages understood that there would be times when people would insist that they were more worthwhile, more valuable or more deserving of certain things. To this, the rabbis clearly disagreed, implanting deep in our Jewish values the idea that each one of us is worthwhile, valuable and deserving of equal rights and privileges.

What we saw in Charlottesville this past weekend was what happens when people forget these values. We saw a group of people who believe that they and only they are valuable, worthwhile and deserving.

This level of hate—using KKK, Confederate and Nazi symbols and slogans, using physical violence against those peacefully protesting—and this behavior has no place in a civilized world.

Belief that Caucasians are superior to other races and ethnicities has been both the original and greatest sin of our great country. Now once again, we must speak out against this untruth, for this weekend was not about political differences, it was about sinat chinam, what our tradition calls “baseless hatred.”

We must use both our voices and actions to remove this hatred from our communities, so that we can move towards a world filled with more justice and peace for all people.

(Rabbi Vogel serves as the Director of the Jewish Experience Center at Kehillat Israel.)

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