Once again, I must begin my article in the Temple Times with images of an event I witnessed, just as it happened with last month's and the one before. What I experienced this week in Washington D.C. was so immensely significant that it
will be challenging to describe it solely in written words.
It was a spontaneous gathering, and yet there were over 290,000 people present. This alone could have impressed me positively. However, to this number, which is neither simple nor brief, we must add the fact that the crowd included people from the city of Washington itself, but also from various other cities and states, like us, and even from much farther away.
I still need to add the sense of collective well-being that was felt there, the feeling of being together, Jews and non-Jews sharing outrage but without a hint of violence, sharing the will to stand in the face of pain and loss, and the despair for the hostages still held (hopefully, this situation has improved by the time the Temple Times is published).
There were Jews of all denominations, even from here, from Utica (although we didn't manage to gather to go there, as was the initial proposal). There were non-Jews of different backgrounds, including Muslims, and I even saw two elderly individuals with a sign saying that Iranians supported the State of Israel.
The support from the entire crowd translated into singing that came straight from the souls present, not only during the Hatikva, the national anthem of the State of Israel but with each of the songs that the artists summoned from Israel and the U.S.A. shared.
The support of politicians and leaders from the Jewish community and others filled us with hope at a time when it could be easy to lose it. With all this, there was no sense of aggression, no violence. Not a single situation that someone could label as aggressive.
It is clear that we are a peculiar people. We argue a lot. We divide ourselves even more. We disagree and continue to promote the dissent that divides us. When it comes to uniting against an external attack, all these barriers fall. The government of Israel is united in a single bloc until it is possible to dissent again. In front of the Capitol, they were all embraced in a single song, and differences were not noticeable.
In recent days, I had the opportunity to dissent in discussions that wanted to emphasize that the State of Israel and its army, precisely the Israel Defense Forces, should think more about the civilians in Gaza. That it should adhere to a ceasefire for humanitarian reasons.
I understand that there are still people who do not understand or cannot see how much the IDF cares for civilians and how much they are concerned with minimizing casualties in Gaza in a wartime situation. Without going into a deep analysis and repeating words you have already heard, this is a war of defense and survival. I have shared on social media (and will continue to do so) various examples of why it is necessary to eradicate terrorism if Israel wants to survive; and I refer to the State and the People of Israel.
There are still people who do not see. There are still people who do not believe that it is possible for hatred towards the Jewish People to generate in the 21st century the same as we experienced in the last century. The small difference is that even some Nazis felt remorse for what they did and hid it or had to be treated psychologically to bear it. In this century, we see that there is no repentance after barbarism. Furthermore, there is exhibitionism, brutality, and pride in the atrocities committed.
I was really thinking of sharing with you an explanation of this historical conflict seen with the greatest objectivity possible in the face of actions from both sides, the Arab and the Jewish, that have only undermined coexistence, the credibility of one side against the other, and the possibility of fraternal reunion. It will be for the next Temple Times.
Today, I am left with nothing but pain, anguish, and controlled anger. I added even more pride for my People and for the good people who manage to see the truth even when many strive to hide it.
And that together, we are much more powerful than divided. This applies to this week's rally and to us here in Utica. There is much to work on together. There is much to build together.
May the small or large differences not allow us to divide even more. Have an excellent month and a civil New Year at its best.
For a better 2024, finding us working more united.
Rabbi Gustavo Geier