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Rabbi's Blog: Toldos Told Us About Anti-Semitism

11/21/2022 03:09:42 PM


Dear OZ family,


This week’s parsha, Toldos, contains the first blatant act that bears the trappings of Anti-Semitism. Yitzchak is banished from Philistia by the king who tells him, ”Go out from us, for you have become far stronger than us”. Of course, Yitzchak posed no threat to the Philistines. They simply declared a canard that would be repeated throughout the ages, next mentioned by Paroah in the beginning of the book of Shemos. Paroah couched his intention to ultimately subjugate and enslave the Jews, with the fear that they too were stronger than their host nation, and that at their first opportunity would join an enemy against them. Their expressions in Hebrew even use the same words.


It is the same canard used by the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, attributing so much more power to the Jews than they actually wield. The Jewish capitalists and Jewish Communists join in a nefarious cabal to take over the world. This idiocy gained significant standing in pre-war Europe and is very popular in the Arab world today. It has a modern twist to it, as the haters on the far right claim that Jewish support of civil rights was meant to undermine Western Civilization, while haters on the far left claim that we are not the real descendants of the ancient Hebrews. Both these claims are profoundly absurd, and they both present real threats to us. The former is often promulgated by seriously disturbed minds who consider their interactions with Jews to be like a battlefield and the fruits of such hatred have been murderous. The latter may not pose this type of mortal threat, but is similarly insidious, as its promulgators have millions of followers on social media. The results of this hatred are the more common acts of vandalism and beatings of people wearing Jewish garb.


The mainstreaming of Anti- Semitic tropes in the media, on college campuses, the Jew-hatred hiding behind the thinly veiled veneer of Israel-hatred, The Jew-bashing often seen in hit jobs on features in the New York Times, make it no wonder that Anti-Semitic acts are the fastest-growing acts of hatred in our area. One would sarcastically shutter to wonder how the Los Angeles Times the Washington Post, or the New York Times , mainstream media, BBC, and others would cover us if we didn’t have control of these outlets.  


I am including here two attachments:

  • one requiring action regarding Amazon (click HERE),
  • and one, that demonstrates Thomas Friedman’s continued disingenuous misrepresentations of Israel (click HERE).


Let us not be unprepared in defending our reputation as a moral people, an upright religion, and as a righteous nation. The threats are real and won’t go away by themselves. One enemy behaves like Haman in the Purim story, and one like Antiochus in the Chanukah story. In the end we must rely on God’s constant protection, just as in those two stories, but we need to do our part, like Esther, Mordechai and the Macabees.   


Our defenses are always bolstered by our own acts of kindness and chesed. I remind the community that we just set out bins in the shul lobby to collect warm clothes for the needy. The cold blast of winter is now upon us. Let us fill these bins for the needy in our midst. The broader community of 95th St. is also in the midst of a warm clothing drive, and we have an opportunity to significantly join in this effort.


Stay well and healthy.

Rabbi Allen Schwartz


Rabbi Allen Schwartz

Congregation Ohab Zedek

118 West 95th Street | New York, NY  10025-6604

Phone 212.749-5150, ext 200 | Fax 212.663-3635





Sat, April 13 2024 5 Nisan 5784