Saturday, March 3, 2007

Tisha B’Av-Early

What was I thinking? Did I ever really believe that the gay parade would go ahead as planned? Truth be told I really don’t preoccupy my time with the gay community. I certainly believe in human rights and the right to full expression as long aas no one else is hurt and as long as other freedoms aren’t trampled. I am not the voice of the gay community; however I will say that I am ashamed at the behavior of the citizens of Jerusalem. I am more concerned about the reactions and behavior of Bene Yerushalayim than I am with the Gay community, who means no harm but seek acceptance and understanding.

The pope asked that the parade not take place because while he supports freedom of expression there are limits. The pope’s opinion really doesn’t move me considering the history of the church, recent past included. They need to get their own house in order and rid themselves of all their pedophiles before having an opinion on the gay community in Israel or anywhere else.

I really am not all that concerned with the opinions of charedi community in the street, because that’s what they are. They’re street people, who unfortunately are accustomed to exercising violence whenever they don’t get their way from the “zionim”. Many of them may look the part of the dignified self respecting scholar, but for the most part they are poshite mentschen with more street sense than scholarship, what is known as the “shabab”. They don’t impress me as being b’nei torah. I can forgive them their violence and homophobia for they know no better.

A true ben torah, wouldn’t be threatening anyone with violence. A true ben torah would condemn the gay parade, but would do so with dignity. His learning and his love of his people would prevent him from thinking along those lines. A true ben torah would never throw a stone at another yid. A true ben torah isn’t guilty of sinat chinam. How can one Jew stab another? Le’an higanu?

Their rabbis and teachers I cannot forgive for their shameless display of intolerance and provocation of violence. They should know better. Oh we who have such short memories. Did we just not mark crystal nacht? Have we not learned anything from our own suffering over the ages by the hand of people who too were ignorant and hounded us till the unthinkable was perpetrated against our parents and grandparents?

The students, their Rabbis and teachers, however don’t compare to the sins of the Chief Rabbinate. The Chief Rabbinate issued a statement referring to Israel’s homosexual community as the “lowest of people”. Encouraging people to protest the march, the Chief Rabbinate said “Everyone from toddler to the elderly will join in the streets and bitterly protest this awful abomination that is desecrating Israel’s name throughout the nations…..” the remarks were incendiary, encouraging the use of violence, even though they asked for restraint. How awful it is to encourage hatred and violence towards others, especially when they are our people. It strikes me that the Rabbinate too may be guilty of sinat chinom.

None of us are guilt free. We all have our prejudices. I, like most was raised with certain prejudices, but struggle to keep them in check. My mother taught me to honor all people no matter their religion, color or sexual preference. In spite of my upbringing I too am guilty of prejudice. My children were raised to harbor no prejudice. I must have done too good a job because in a moment of anger I said something revealing prejudice. I was caught by my own children. No explanation was good enough for them. They wouldn’t accept my apology even after explaining that I really didn’t mean what I said. They wouldn’t relent until they felt I was genuinely remorseful.

Our second temple was brought down, according to tradition because of sinat chinam. How shall we approach the coming Tisha B’Av knowing that we are still guilty of sinat chinam. Have we learnt nothing!