It was nice to shut the news off for Pesach, because a lot of negative things have been getting a lot of attention.  Indeed, antisemitism is dominating headlines again.

I have been working through my personal feelings as well as  trying to get clarity on the Rebbe’s response.

Indeed, the Rebbe’s approach was novel.

He didn’t put much into fighting anti-Semitism, and when asked about it, would not take the bait and instead spoke about how all of humanity is really one, saying things like, “All mankind came from Adam so that no one should be able to say I am better than you.”

The few times the Rebbe did speak about it, he framed it more as a reality than a virus.  

On the one hand he believed that we can’t educate people out of it, that until Moshiach comes and the “wolf lies with the lamb”- metaphorically symbolizing that the nations will dwell with Israel in peace, anti-Semitism will not be rooted out.

On the other hand, rooting out the anti-Semites and cancelling them is not really an effective way of fighting it either.  On the contrary, being proud and treating even the antisemites with dignity can actually elicit more dignified behavior on their part.  (There was a fascinating exchange of letters between Alan Dershowitz and the Rebbe on this.  Dershowitz was upset the Rebbe allowed Chabad to honor Senator Jesse Helms, who was considered an antisemite.  The Rebbe responded about how politician;s decisions are more expedient than fundamental, and that the way in which they honored him was opening a door to influence the future.  Indeed Senator Helms went on to to chair the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and became a huge Israel supporter in that capacity.)

Finally, Antisemitism doesn’t have to define us, and we should make our main focus on Jewish pride.  Indeed, people respect people who respect themselves.  When a Jew is embarrassed or uncomfortable with their Jewishness, that only invites and exacerbates antisemitism.  At the same time, making antisemitism a central focus of the Jewish community doesn’t inspire the youth to celebrate their Jewishness, and on the contrary, drives them away.


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