This past Shabbat our congregant Joel Wasserman gave us an update on the situation in Ukraine and the work he and his girlfriend Katya are doing there. If you missed the talk or were present in person or on Zoom but had difficulties hearing everything that was said, you can watch the video of the talk here.Joel Wasserman Update on Ukraine 10/22/22. One of the nice things about YouTube videos is that you can click on the “CC” button and get closed captions -- they are done automatically and not always perfect but they help a lot. Joel and Katya flew back to Ukraine yesterday and when I get Joel’s list of NGOs that he thinks are doing good work in Ukraine I will share it with you.
Over the past few days in the wake of the anti-semitic ravings of the musician formerly known as Kanye West, I have seen the meme below
posted by a lot of people I know and respect on various social media:
While there is always a certain bizarre comfort in believing that we stand alone and that we rush to support others when they are attacked but no one supports us when we are attacked, I find memes such as these not only factually wrong but profoundly unhelpful. Adidas just dropped its partnership with Kanye, a move that will cost them several hundred million dollars.
I am under no illusion that Adidas or any other multinational mega corporation is a beacon of social and moral conscience. But the fact that they felt sufficient pressure which forced them to make this move says something about public opinion. I do not believe that Adidas would have made a decision that cost them so much money if it had only been Jews who were calling to boycott Adidas unless it cuts its ties with Kanye. There are 16 million Jews in the world and Kanye had upwards of 30 million Twitter followers before his account was frozen. If we were as friendless as this meme posits, Adidas would almost certainly still be in business with Kanye.
When you think about it, antisemitism is primarly a Gentile problem. Jews alone cannot solve it, anymore than LGBT people alone can solve anti-LGBT prejudice or People of Color alone can solve racism. The process which began in the Catholic church in the early 1960s is illustrative of how to successfully fight antisemitism and I will discuss that history and what we can learn from it in my class tomorrow night after minyan. I hope you will consider participating.
As a reminder, I am having drop-in hours on Thursday afternoon from 2 to 4 at the shul. You do not need to make an appointment -- that would negate the whole point of drop-in hours -- but I’d urge you to check and make sure I am there regardless as sometimes there are unavoidable pastoral or other emergencies which might take me away from the building.
As always, if I can do anything for you or you need to talk, please contact me at email@example.com or 301-977-0768 rather than through the synagogue office. I am happy to meet you at the synagogue by appointment. I have been spending more time in the synagogue recently but if you want to speak with me it’s best to make an appointment rather than assuming I will be there when you stop by.
Rabbi Charles L. Arian