By Rabbi Areyah Kaltmann for Anash.org
As antisemites exploit the coronavirus crisis, Ohio Shliach Rabbi Aryeh Kaltmann writes about the painful experience of seeing these displays in his State capital.
I never knew my father’s parents. I never had a chance to talk to them. As a child, I could only look at old pictures of them and wonder why they didn’t come to my birthday parties the way other kids’ grandparents went to theirs. Only when I grew up did I understand where they went: they were murdered in the Holocaust.
As the world commemorates the Holocaust, I grieve not only for my grandparents and 6 million murdered Jews, but also for those in our society who think the Holocaust has no relevance today. The image of a protester carrying an anti-Semitic placard at a rally in front of the Statehouse yesterday is ugly, grotesque proof that we still have lessons to learn from the unreasoned hatred of the Holocaust.
We live in an unprecedented time when the world can and must band together. We’re fighting a war unlike any other the world has known. Nations at war band together within themselves to fight: “us” vs. “them.” Today there is no “us” and no “them.” For the first time, the entire world shares an unseen enemy, Covid-19, that has attacked us all. No one deserves to feel suffering and pain. This is a time to work together and help each other.
My teacher, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, taught us to light up the world with positivity. The Rebbe said we have to build bridges of communication in order to bring people together and concentrate on what we all have in common.
The world has never had such a shared invisible enemy as we do now. This is the time for all people to listen to and value other perspectives. This is the world’s opportunity to hit the reset button. This is our opportunity to make the world a better place.
Every mitzva we do, every act of kindness we perform, keeps the memory of our loved ones alive. Although I never knew my grandparents, I feel that at least I can try and represent them in a world that now, of all times, doesn’t need polarization. When we concentrate on what we have in common, we will prevail.