In splansky, Third

By Rabbi Yael Splansky.

Synagogues do not choose political parties nor back candidates.  Statements made by the Reform, Orthodox, Reconstructionist, and Conservative Movements, however, point to a growing consensus among American Jewry that a “neutral business as usual” approach can no longer hold where Donald Trump is concerned.

When AIPAC (The American Israel Public Affairs Committee) announced that Trump would be given a platform at its annual convention, the leadership of our Reform Movement wrote this in response.

Some of my rabbinic colleagues walked out in protest.  One friend sat and held a sign “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” written in English, Hebrew, Spanish, and Arabic.  Others held a study session outside of the hall, probing Jewish texts for guidance and inspiration.  And others applauded what may be the only scripted speech Mr. Trump has given so far in his campaign.

The next day the leadership of AIPAC addressed the convention with an emotional apology to clarify its respect for the Office of the President and for President Obama. “We have said, in every way we can think of: Come together. But last evening, something occurred which has the potential to drive us apart, to divide us. We say, unequivocally, that we do not countenance ad hominem attacks, and we take great offense to those that are levied against the president of the United States of America from our stage.”

I admit I am baffled by the standing ovations.  I personally cannot draw a circle around one speech to separate it from his other speeches.  It was clarifying to hear Trump’s position on Israel – and I believe that is what AIPAC was after – but I cannot cheer for a man who has built a presidential campaign on hatred.  Like Rabbi Jonah Pesner of the Religious Action Center in Washington, I want to know how Donald Trump could possibly justify the hateful, bigoted, and ugly things he has said.  Here is the open letter Rabbi Pesner has written “on behalf of 1.5 million Reform Jews.”

The Larger Issue

Donald Trump is a powerful man, but he is only one man.  The greater concern, of course, are the thousands of Americans who are drawn to his hateful speech and who feel their fears are addressed by his slogans.  Their anger and fear are real and will continue long after the election.

Canadians do not have a vote, of course.  Yes, we know we are fortunate to live in this good country and to watch from across the border.  But what is our role in this moment of history?  How might we use our voices to condone or condemn?  CIJA broke from its usual boundaries and made this comment back in December in order to distinguish Jewish and Canadian values from his when it comes to welcoming worthy Muslim immigrants.

I welcome a respectful conversation among congregants below.

Purim

Donald Trump is not Haman.  Such comparisons are not helpful.  The fanciful story of Purim, however, does come with a warning and a charge.  The warning:  choose leadership carefully.  The charge:  use your voice courageously.

On Purim we laugh in the face of a world turned topsy-turvy.  But that cynical laughter is only for a day.  Every other day of the year we have to work very hard, with eyes wide open, in order to create the just and peaceful world we seek.

Chag Purim Sameach!

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  • Hersh Hlickman
    Reply

    Trump is a viable candidate for the Republican nomination and therefore had a right to address this body. We may not like what he has to say but ,given the declared support he has, he should be heard . If he continues his hateful ways, he will not get the nomination but will create chaos all around him. Sadly, there are no inspiring candidates in either party and that has bee the reason for the “Donald’s” success.

  • SANDRA FREEMAN
    Reply

    He is a dangerously bigoted racist. The fact that he has such a “following” indicates the degree of ongoing racism that still exists in the US of A in 2016. He is making a mockery of democracy.
    G-d help us all…

  • Harriet Wolman
    Reply

    I have been following Donald Trump’s campaign from the beginning. There is no doubt that this man possesses a certain charisma when he addresses the crowds of people who are attracted to him. Yet his words lack dignity, and he shows no respect for his fellow Americans. According to him, there is no one in America except himself who has any constructive plans for the country, and it is up to him “to make America great again” – but he wants to do this without the benefit of the melting pot that has been at the centre of American democracy and has made the country a home for all the nations that make up its large and diverse population. His picture of the “new” American demographic under his leadership will be one without Muslims; not only one without protection for new refugees, but one that will get rid of the Muslims who are part of mainstream America.

    Trump also promotes torture as a means of extracting information which is absolutely illegal under US law. All this makes me wonder whom he will suggest the US should get rid of after they get rid of the Muslims?

    In my opinion, Donald Trump is a dangerous man. His presence as a candidate for President has distracted the American people from democratically choosing a change of leadership, if that is what they want to do. I hope there is a way of wrestling power away from this man before he does great harm to the American nation, both domestically and on the international scene.

    Trump has debased not only American leaders, but European ones as well. For example, he has said that Angela Merkel has ruined Germany. He shows no respect for his adversaries in his vituperous speeches. He warns his public that there may be violence during his election rallies. This sounds to me less like a warning against violence than that he is giving permission to them to participate in violence.

    The essence of democracy is for candidates to persuade people to vote for them because they are the best person for the job. Donald Trump chooses instead to incite hatred against anyone but himself, by showing disrespect to his fellow candidates and anyone who is currently elected. I do not believe this bodes well for the Jewish people, either in North America or in Israel, if he is elected.

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