Comments by freshman Congresswoman Omar have ignited intense debates within Jewish circles and in the halls of Congress. A couple of weeks ago more than seventy rabbis, myself included, signed a letter giving her the benefit of the doubt about comments. The letter also acknowledged her apology. Regretfully, the situation has gotten worse with increasing attacks on her but also because of her own insensitivity in using language that associated with anti-semitism.
This congresswoman is reportedly receiving death threats. Recently, she was featured on an Islamophobic poster at the Republican-sponsored WVGOP Day at the West Virginia statehouse tying her to the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001. Isn't it hypocritical and ridiculous that she is being singled out for reprimand and censure when so many others in power have spewed much clearer examples of bigotry, racism, sexism and Islamophobia?
Members of T'ruah support a more responsible and thoughtful process in dealing with these issues than the minimalist reports, accusations and assumptions made by the media and certain Jewish and other groups outside of Congress. There is a serious need to address these issues through a process of learning and dialogue. Perhaps a Bill proposing that members of Congress go through such a process in their service to the people of this nation is necessary.
Meanwhile, rather than condemn one person, we should support the expansion of a Resolution to include other forms of bias."Our party stands strong against anti-semitism, our party stands strong against racism, our party opposes bigotry and prejudice and discrimination, and so we should be careful that we're not sending the wrong messages to people", said Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), a junior member of the House Democratic leadership. There needs to be a broader and deeper understanding.
In the Parsha this week, Pekude, we hear and read about the completion of the Mishkan, the portable Sanctuary. We have listened and seen how the people harmoniously participated in its creation. Pekude is the last Parsha in the Book of Exodus. The people, in a state of common purpose, are ready to move on into the Land of Promise.
Today, we have much work to do in order to move forward on our journey as a Jewish people and as a nation. If we hold the vision of creating a just and compassionate society, as envisioned by our prophets and by the founders of this nation, and commit ourselves toward working towards this goal, we will get there. Khazak, Khazak, V'Nitkhazek, Be strong, be strong and may we strengthen one another, Happy Adar II ! Reb David