FROM THE RABBI’S DESK

 

 

 

 May/June 2019

 

 Shalom Uvrakha! Many of you have asked for a copy of the talk I gave at the Discovery Center in March:

We have gathered this night to learn about what was arguably the darkest episode in all of human history; Nazi medicine. It was a series of unspeakable horrors and crimes against the innocent committed by the most highly educated professionals on earth. If you consult histories of science you learn that the modern, scientific, discipline of Medicine was first founded, established and developed 120-130 years ago in German and Austrian medical faculties and institutes. These were the most highly accredited universities in the world! These degenerate, criminal "professionals" mutilated humanity, disgraced civilization and scarred the pages of human history forever, with the ugliest stain imaginable. These were the practitioners of Nazi medicine. We, along with our parents, teachers and leaders failed to raise our voices sufficiently and too many sinned through silence. Then slowly, our eyes, minds and hearts became opened to that which our indifference had allowed; the Holocaust. 

Recently, some have referred to the "Holocaust industry" and others have spoken of "Holocaust fatigue". They complain that we have had enough of this already. Many are tired of continuing to rehearse the role of the victim. "Enough" they say, "Enough with looking back at the past. It's time to move on."  But dare we ignore the past by failing to become activated and getting involved today? History, as we know, has a nasty habit of repeating itself. How many genocides have we witnessed recently? Sudan, Darfur, Cambodia, Bosnia, Rowanda, Myannmar, Syria, Yemen, Coptics, Yazidis, Rohingya, Indonesia, East Timor, Uighurs, etc. The list of human atrocities seems unending.

Many have become angry. They feel battered. The horrors of recent history have left them with a collective case of post traumatic stress disorder. For them, rage becomes a defense mechanism. It gives them the feeling of strength with which to defeat an enemy. But rage, says the Talmud, has no boundaries. It attacks everyone and everything. It has no limits and knows not how and when to stop.

We, the Jewish people, have consistently been victimized by the most ancient, virulent and ever enduring form of hatred; Anti-Semitism. This sickness simply refuses to die. It has existed for thousands of years but it manifests none of the infirmities of old age. It has plagued Asia, Africa, and the Middle East and has returned with a vengeance to Europe's most esteemed, venerable and enlightened, liberal democracies (the UK, Holland, France). It even appeared at a synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (Tree of Life). Scholars who specialize in this field of study have long since exhausted every economic, social, political and religious theory. Some believe that Psychoanalysis is the only remaining, useful tool for attempting to understand this pernicious  variety of bigotry (see J. Faur's  "Deauthorization of the Law: The Oedipal Model" in  Psychoanalysis and Religion, Smith & Handelman eds. Johns Hopkins University Press, 1990). This toxic and homicidal form of hatred has punctuated all of European history for millennia through successive waves of expulsion, pogrom, persecution and inquisition.

During Passover we recited the ritual of the Ten Plagues. Perhaps we should rewrite this time- honored, litany to focus instead on the plagues which afflict us so severely today: blind hatred, intolerance, racism, mysogyny, prejudice, bigotry, mental illness, the teaching of contempt and the pedagogy of poison. These malignant plagues continue tormenting innocent men, women and children all around the world. Thousands of years ago a Hebrew Prophet of God addressed us with 3 essential questions:

"Have we not all One Father ? Did not one God create us all ? Why does man continue to deal treacherously with his fellow human being ?" 

Tonight we will learn about Nazi Medicine. But when and where will we find the formula for Anti Nazi Medicine ?  Where is the remedy for this disease which continues to afflict humankind? How can we innoculate people-- young and old-- and make them immune to this sickness ? As in so many other areas of life, we pray for God's help. Even as we gather here this evening, the leadership of the Republic of Iran continues (for its 40th year) to issue full throated denials of the Holocaust while simultaneously pledging to complete its abominable work of genocide. For this and for so many other reasons we must remain steadfastly committed to the well being, the strength and the security of the State of Israel. And for this we dare not apologize.