Watching people march chanting, “Jews will not replace us!” has been scary to say the least. Watching others defend this as “freedom of speech” is a whole other level of scary. Everyone is entitled to hate whatever and whoever they want and to profess it from the rooftops if that’s what they want to do. You are free to. There is power in this freedom and with any power comes responsibility. Just as the 1st amendment doesn’t protect against yelling “fire” in a movie theater, it doesn’t protect against inciting violence and creating fear. Like a tube of toothpaste, once those words are out they are very hard to take back.
You were both born to Jewish parents and a long lineage of Jewish relatives. In my opinion, that doesn’t make you Jewish. From my perspective, Judaism is a practice. It’s a religion, and not an ethnicity. If you don’t practice – you can’t claim to be Jewish. That’s my opinion. We have been trying to teach you the principles of what it means to be Jewish – to be kind, appreciative and charitable. As you get older, we’ll formalize these teachings with Hebrew school and eventually your Bar/Bat Mitzvah. As you get older, we’ll help you understand the significance of holidays, history and traditions.
Right now, you don’t understand. After hearing the chanting and seeing the support, I decided we need to be more consistent in our education. So, last Friday we had Shabbat. We lit the candles and talked about the celebration that is Shabbat. The celebration that starts without TV but with us being together. We said the hamotzi, had challah and talked about how thankful we are to take an appreciative moment. Next week, i’d like to incorporate donating the unfinished challah into our tradition. As with every Friday, your friends came over and we continued our celebration and appreciated one another.
We are trying out best to equip you both with Jewish values and to find those reinforcement opportunities in our daily life. The other day Dylan, you told me about a new friend in class. You said he sits next to you and cries a lot when his mommy leaves. I asked you what you do when he cries and you said, “I told him it’s going to be a good day.” I’m proud of you. If you decide one day to not practice Judaism anymore, i’ll understand. The values and foundation are there. Kind, appreciative and charitable. That’s what’s important. And if someone chooses to hate you for it, don’t change to appease their values. Don’t let their hate and fear create hate and fear in yourselves. Don’t remove the mezuzah from your door. Don’t preach or try to explain yourselves. Be yourselves, be kind, be appreciative and be charitable and you will rise above it.