I presume that back in the 1930’s and ’40’s many people – Europeans, Americans, Jews particularly – thought that the whispers about concentration camps were someone’s ideas of a bad April Fools joke. After all, who could imagine that while they were sitting comfortably in their homes, people “out there” somewhere were planning and facilitating the genocide of a whole people. One person’s humorless joke is another people’s death sentence.
Talmud teaches us – Al tifrosh min hatzibur – don’t separate yourself from the community (Pirkei Avot 2:4). What does that mean? For Purim’s Queen Esther, it meant realizing her responsibility when Mordechai warned her that she could not escape the evil that had befallen the kingdom. For us, it means realizing, when we try listening for the punchline and thus allow people to perpetrate large scale, systematic acts of violence, especially during a time of global economic malaise, the evil can quickly spread… and perhaps in our direction. If we separate ourselves from the world community, we give permission to others to expand their violence “to a loved one nearer to you.”
That’s why I believe every Jew and Jewish family (including every Or Ami member) should rearrange their plans and show up on Sunday morning, April 10th, for Jewish World Watch’s “Walk to End Genocide”. A few hours of time to combat evil will not only fulfill Torah’s edict Lo taamod al dam rei-acha – don’t stand idly by while your neighbor bleeds (Lev. 19:16), but it will declare unambiguously to the world that evil, rape, violence, and genocide have no place in our world.
(If I can be so bold…) neither kids’ baseball games, nor homework projects, nor previous commitments should keep us from walking.
- Think genocide in Darfur.
- Think organized mass rapes in Congo (by the hundreds of thousands).
- Remember Hotel Rwanda, Cambodia’s Pol Pot and Nazi Germany’s “labor – concentration – camps”.
If you absolutely cannot make the time, sponsor a walker. Or you can sponsor me here.
Let’s awake next year without the need to Walk to End Genocide. On that new day, the whispers of renewed genocide could really be just a bad dream (not a really bad joke).