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Rabbi’s Blog: Transition from Nissan to Iyyar

05/09/2024 03:10:45 PM


Dear OZ family,

The end of Nissan to the beginning of Iyar makes a surreal transition from a day commemorating the murder of 6 million Jews, the absolute low point of our 2,000 year diaspora, to a day commemorating the return of our exiles to our ancestral homeland. The two dates are 27 Nissan and 5 Iyar. Even fewer days separate the saddest day on our calendar, Tisha B’av, and one of the 2 happiest days on our calendar, Tu B’av. We are used to these sharp fluctuations as Megillat Esther calls it, a transformation from grief to joy and from mourning to festivities (See Esther 9:22).


On Yom Hashoah we showed excerpts of a film called Bardejov, about a plan to save 1,000 young girls from certain death. Mr. Emil Fish, a survivor of Bergen Belsen described his childhood in Bardejov, that the Jews and gentiles got along quite well before the war. My father has a similar recollection regarding his youth in Lutsk, Poland (now part of Ukraine). We must wonder with amazement, how the gentiles could turn so forcefully against their Jewish neighbors in their time of desperation. It’s one thing for the townspeople to have remained neutral, but so many turned on their neighbors, as if there was some deep-rooted Jew hatred that was brought to the surface and then poured out into the open streets.


Without getting into the question of what can and can’t happen in other places, no one can doubt, that such vitriol is plain for all to see in so many places across the globe. How is it that in a professional environment where someone can get fired, cancelled and dropped because of a pejorative they used 20 years ago, people get away with saying the most outrageous things about Jews with no accountability.

No one would tolerate placards, flags and signs praising the works of the KKK, yet Chamas and Hezbollah slogans abound. How is it that there are professors who were exhilarated by the murder, rape and violence of Oct. 7th, and who publicly declared those feelings, yet they continue to spread their venomous vitriol to their witless students?


There must be a price to pay for all this and there is pushback beginning to materialize. There are political ramifications and we must stand up clearly and unequivocally for Israel. Menachem Begin responded in 1982 to a threat to cut off aid for Israel with the response that Israel will defend itself alone if it needs to. No one defended us as we were driven to the ovens of death camps by the tens of thousands a day. Chamas has the same murderous intentions for Jews that the Germans had. We have every much the same right and duty to uproot Chamas in our backyard, as America did to uproot the last vestiges of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan across an ocean.


Chazal say that Rivkah’s birth, which is mentioned just before the death of Sarah, is a sign that God gave Yitzchak the “refuah” of his marriage, just before he suffered the tragic loss of his mother. Yitzchak was married 3 years after Sarah died, the same 3 years between 1945 and 1948. God’s deliverance is speedy and we are always close to salvation. Let us deserve it. Let us be united. Let us stamp out Lashon Hara. Let us find time for more activity for Israel and our community. We have our largest NY contingent for this coming week’s NORPAC Washington trip, that we’ve ever had. We are still looking for people who want o join us on our Israel mission at the end of May. May God look with grace upon our goodness and kindness and turn our grief to celebration just as He did in Megillat Esther.


Stay safe 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




Wed, July 24 2024 18 Tammuz 5784