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May 22, 2017

Archive for Student Articles

Anti-Semitism Is a Phenomenon of Nature

Throughout our lives on this planet, we observe and feel within ourselves the perennial and unyielding cycles of nature. Anything that exists adheres to those laws. During the lifetimes of many of us, we have seen anti-Semitism sprout, grow into its most horrific manifestation, then abate again. And it seems that now we are on another upswing. Is another Nazi-like regime possible? Is this an inevitable outcome that can’t be prevented or overcome?

Nature is a vast system where harmony, altruism, interdependence, and interconnection thrive. These are principles that when carried out maintain the exquisite balance of the universe.

When the human level emerged out of the inanimate, vegetative, and animate phases of evolution, we came endowed with ego, a quality not present anywhere else in nature. Through the misuse of ego, we have developed into a society that creates incalculable separation through our exploitation of nature and each other in the quest for satisfaction of our desires. 

In the days of Abraham, the Jews understood that the only way to manage egoism was to rise above their egos and unite in that upper space. When Jews unite above all the disputes and disagreements, the positive force that can do wonders spreads in the world.

The fact is that the Jews were chosen to create unity among themselves, then teach the world how to do the same. The problem is that today Jews are not united. They are divided by geography, by internal polarization into liberals and conservatives, even in their loyalty to the state of Israel. In his article “Can There Be Nazism in America?” in The Jerusalem Post, Dr. Laitman says:

“If American Jews do not take their lives in their own hands and force themselves to unite above their mutual dislike, the Americans will force them to do so through bloodshed. There is no more time. The Jews must put aside all differences and unite because unity is the Jewish people’s sole salvation, and because when we unite, we are a light unto nations—giving the world what Abraham intended for humanity to have almost four millennia ago, and what the world so badly needs today.”

In another Jerusalem Post article, “The 2nd Holocaust—How We Can Prevent it,” Dr. Laitman tells us: “We can prevent the second Holocaust. All we must do is little-by-little, unite ‘as one man with one heart.’ We are still masters of our fate; the choice is still in our hands. Let’s not miss out again.”

In nature there is exquisite balance. As anti-Semitism rises again, like crocuses in the spring, Jews must restore balance by carrying out their role of becoming a light unto the nations, not only for themselves, but for the world.

“When the Children of Israel are complemented with the complete knowledge, the fountains of intelligence and knowledge shall flow beyond the boundaries of Israel and water all the nations of the world” (Baal HaSulam, “Introduction to the Book, Panim Meirot and uMasbirot,” Item 4).

By Annabelle

  

Let’s Connect for Our Children’s Sake

My daughter recently started kindergarten. No words can express the sensations a mother feels when she drops off her children for the first time in kindergarten or daycare. We worry, we fret, we want them to be safe, make good friends, and be happy.

The worry continues throughout our children’s lives and we experience the same trepidations as they begin dating, enter universities, and start their first jobs. We envelop them with as much love as we can muster and send them off hoping that they receive the support and nurturing they need to be happy and succeed.

From this perspective, the latest wave of anti-Semitism in the world is particularly troubling. Of course we always worry about our own safety and wellbeing, but when it comes to our children, parents would agree that it’s a whole different ballgame.

The sensations we feel when we know that our own children are alienated or ostracized, made fun of, or put in any sort of physical danger are sharp and painful. But this is exactly what I fear may begin to happen (if it hasn’t already).

As the world moves to more extreme forms of anti-Semitism as we are already seeing, everyone in our communities becomes a victim, and that includes our children. We see that community centers and universities are not exempt from the hatred the world feels towards us and it’s not long before our children become direct targets. My heart sinks at the very thought.

Is there anything we can do as parents and as a community to turn this around?

Yes.

As much as we would like, we cannot wipe out anti-Semitism overnight. However, we can take definitive steps to make it less aggressive and maintain it at a manageable, much less threatening level.

In order to understand the solution, we must first accept that anti-Semitism exists because of division, hate, and disconnection between Jews. Thus the remedy for it lies squarely in the hands of those who identify themselves as Jewish, in their connection. The more Jews work on their connection and the tighter their bond, the more it will become like a shield that protects them, guards and develops their children and strengthens their communities.

No matter what personal ideologies or belief systems, Jews have to connect with each other above everything and they must do this urgently or else, they risk putting themselves, and more importantly, their children in real danger.

The moment Jews start connecting, they will see how this threat dissipates, how news of anti-Semitism diminishes and how their children become happier and more confident in their dealings with the rest of the world.

Why not then start connecting for our children’s sake?

By Veronica Edwards

  

Why Anti-Semitism?

I am not Jewish but I clearly remember the first time the reality of the Holocaust and anti-Semitism hit me. It was a history lesson in high school and our teacher had just shown us the movie “Schindler’s List.” My youthful innocence and naiveté vanished that day. I realized the extent of the evil that can exist and the questions began to nag me: How could this have happened? What drives civilized societies to such hate? Could it happen again? And why specifically the Jews?

I had many Jewish friends through my university years and upon graduation, my first manager and many of my work colleagues were also Jewish. I always looked at them with curiosity. What is it about them that spurred such hatred just a few short decades ago? What was the reason for it? What could stop it? I found it unsettling that my Jewish friends didn’t seem to have answers to these questions and many were in denial about the existence of a special treatment toward them.

My curiosity persisted and I found answers that made sense once I encountered the wisdom of Kabbalah. I share what I learned with you here with the hopes that if these questions have arisen in you too, you will know that there is reason for Anti-Semitism. And there is also a method that is designed specifically to banish Anti-Semitism and all forms of hatred from the world.  

This is especially relevant today given the unprecedented rise of anti-semitic incidents worldwide. Gravestones being vandalized at a Jewish cemetery. Anti-semitic notes left at the doors marked with a mezuzah at condo buildings. Jewish students feeling repressed at university campuses across Europe and North America. Swastikas spray painted on residence doors, sidewalks and cars. Bomb threats at Jewish community centers. Economic sanctions against Israel. UN resolutions that make zero sense. It seems the pendulum is swinging back toward hatred of Jews and the proof is both plentiful and alarming.

Why is it happening again?

The wisdom of Kabbalah explains that the hatred of Jews is ingrained in the people of the world. We are living at the cusp of human development when people’s ego or self-love is at an all time high. It is causing huge rifts in the relationships between people in all spheres of life, including between couples and family members, among work colleagues, political parties and countries. In such a conflict-stricken world and unable to do anything to resolve their differences, people are awakening and looking for the culprit and the solution.

What do Jews have to do with all this, you ask? Everything.

Jews are descendants of those who once implemented Abraham’s method, also known as the wisdom of Kabbalah. This method teaches people how to unite by rising above their differences. In essence, Jews are the owners of the solution that people the world over are so desperate for.  However, the Jews themselves are not embracing it and worse yet, are not passing it on to the nations. This is the sole reason for the hatred the world feels toward this tiny fraction of the world population and the cause of all its troubles.

History has already shown what could be the outcome of such oblivion and lack of responsibility toward the world. Unless we act quickly to implement the wisdom of Kabbalah and help the world overcome the huge ego that is ripping it apart, all signs indicate we will see history repeat itself.

If we do manage to implement the method and teach it to the world, good times await. “When Israel have unity, there is no end to their attainment,” writes the book, Noam Elimelech (The Pleasantness of Elimelech). “The prime defense against calamity is love and unity. When there are love, unity, and friendship between each other in Israel, no calamity can come over them,” adds Rabbi Kalonymus Halevi Epstein in Maor VaShemesh (Light and Sun).  

by Veronica Edwards

  

American Jews and the Rise of Anti-Semitism

We resist people that want us to change and especially those that demand change. Change under such conditions means that I have to give up something that I very much treasure: my self-importance. If the demand for change persists, if it’s really in-my-face, and especially if it goes against my core values, then what starts out as irritation can quickly become full-blown hatred.

You can find many examples of this in everyday life, but nowhere is it more evident than what is happening in America today, in the political and ideological landscape defined by the liberal left versus the conservative right, where each side stands firm on its views, across an ever-widening political divide that increasingly forebodes violence and riots.

Here it’s important to understand our nature: Conceding to any demand for change brings us such a sensation of lowness that our ego can’t tolerate it. We don’t feel any reward in sacrificing something for the sake of others—especially our righteous indignation—and so we oppose the ones demanding change.

In the America of today, this has taken the form of significant anti-change protests, unrelenting accusations against the other side (including efforts to delegitimize the Trump presidency), along with an explosion of hate crimes and inexplicable murders.

Interestingly, at the same time, we have also seen a significant rise in anti-Semitism, for example, vandalism of Jewish cemeteries and bomb threats against Jewish Community Centers, schools, synagogues, and Anti-Defamation League offices. This may give one pause to consider if there is there a connection.

Indeed, there is a connection. But to understand the connection, we have to step back and take a look at the ancient past of the Jewish people.

The Jewish people, specifically those in Abraham’s time that implemented his teaching of correction, achieved a spiritual state that enabled them to fulfill the main spiritual law of loving another as yourself; meaning, they acquired the ability to relate to others as if they were relating to themselves.

Just as we, in our current nature, operate according to an automatic inner program, egoism, that always chooses what is good for us, they acquired an additional program, altruism, that superseded any thought of self in favor of others. The benefit to this was, and still is, enormous: the attainment of oneness with the resulting sensation of belonging to an eternal, whole, and perfect system, that is, eternal life filled with enormous spiritual pleasures.

In order to share this blissful state with the rest of humanity, it was necessary that the people of Israel lose the sensation of oneness, descend once again to the level of separateness, and then become, as you may have heard, ”a Light unto the nations.” Now, in our days, by uniting once again above all their differences, Jews will become both an example and the means for the rest of humanity to achieve the exalted state of oneness.

This is important to understand because it explains the connection between Jewish opposition that leads to disunity and separation and the rise in anti-Semitism.

This is because once the Jewish people achieved the state of oneness—loving your neighbor as yourself, in complete contrast to our current nature—and with this attainment becoming their unique spiritual heritage, they became directly responsible for the happiness and well-being of the rest of humanity. And because non-Jews subconsciously recognize this dependence on Jews for their personal well-being, they automatically respond in negative ways whenever Jews bring about disunity.

This, then, is the root cause of rising anti-Semitism. In such a manner, even unknowingly, Jews evoke it upon themselves, and it will transform into positive support only when they accept their unique role and demonstrate to everyone the benefits of oneness in love and unity above all differences.

By Brenda Jones

  

Eyes Wide Open

In light of the recent Holocaust Memorial Day and the rise of anti-Semitism in the world, I felt the need to share my story.

I am Jewish. I was born Jewish. I come from a long line of Jews who migrated to America from Russia to escape the pogroms. I was raised to respect the Jewish traditions, and although we did not keep kosher, we did observe the holidays—mostly to please my grandmother, the matriarch of my family.

My uncle was a cantor (one who sings and leads the prayer in a synagogue), I loved to hear him sing but had no idea what he was saying. I never learned Hebrew, I didn’t go to Sunday school because my parents gave me a choice and my sister told me I would hate it. I grew up in a middle class neighborhood that was a melting pot of all, in an area known to be the home of many Jews with a great Deli within walking distance of our house.

We learned about anti-Semitism and Hitler in school, but it didn’t really affect us. That is until the Nazi Party of America planned a march in my home town in 1977. Then I learned that approximately 5,000 of the residents of Skokie, Illinois were Holocaust survivors.

I remember meeting my girlfriend’s aunt who always seemed so withdrawn and sad. One day I was invited to a dinner where, while sitting at the dining room table, I saw the numbers tattooed on her arm. She shared the story of how she was at Auschwitz. She was in line for what she called the ovens, the crematorium.

There was a mother behind her whose daughter was in front of her. The mother wanted to be with her daughter. If you were caught talking or changing places in line you were shot on the spot. But somehow they switched places. The mother moved up a spot to be with her daughter. That day the line stopped at my girlfriend’s aunt. The mother and daughter were killed and she was spared. Her story haunted me for many years.

After my son was born we took a trip to visit my own great aunt who was one of the last surviving relatives of that generation. She shared many stories of my relatives in Russia, and what it was like to be Jewish in the pogroms. She told me how my great grandparents hid in a neighbor’s basement during one of the raids with my then two year old great uncle. The neighbor did not want to hide them at first, because if it was known that she was helping a Jew, she too would be killed with her whole family.

But as she watched my grandparent’s turn away with their two-year-old son, she could not let it be, and invited them to come in and hide. When the pogrom police came to her house, she swore on a picture of Jesus that there were no Jews there. At first the police did not believe her and they started to search the house, but she kept swearing on the picture of Jesus, and finally they said if you swear on Jesus, we must believe you and they left. That day that woman saved not only my great grandparents and uncle, but me too, as I would never have been born if my family had been killed.

Being Jewish for me then became more of a stigma then a proud heritage. I couldn’t find my place in my religion. People would ask what you were, and my friends would say Italian, Spanish etc, but I was always labeled as Jewish, not Russian. I never understood what that meant.

Once when I was renting a house the landlord had to come and fix something. His wife came with him and somehow we got to talking and it came out that I was Jewish. She looked at me like she had seen a ghost, her eyes got really big and she said, “You are one of the chosen people.” I told her, “I thought we were all chosen because we are all alive.” I didn’t get why she treated me differently, but it again reaffirmed to me how my being Jewish was more of a stigma and something not to be shared.

Fast forward to today, where the rise of anti-Semitism seems to be skyrocketing all over the world. To be an American Jew who closes my eyes is to close my heart to all those who fought and struggled in my family, my girlfriend’s family, and in my childhood neighborhood. It means I am closing my eyes to all those living in fear and dying all over the world. Any time we close our eyes to hatred, we close our hearts to life and love and the meaning of our existence.

The first step to healing is to be informed, not to run away but to learn what it means to be a Jew and what our purpose is in this world. We must learn why Jews are so hated and what anti-Semitism is all about so we can speak out against the hatred of any and all human beings. We cannot let history repeat itself, we cannot turn a blind eye.

The following excerpt from the website Why Do People Hate Jews? spoke volumes to me. I am sharing it with the hope it will do the same for you, and we can all move forward together with our eyes wide open.

As the world deteriorates into chaos crisis by crisis, the pressure on the Jews will continue to grow. A few years ago, a second Holocaust was unthinkable. Today it is a concern that people are beginning to express openly.

In the early 1950s, Rav Yehuda Ashlag wrote The Writings of the Last Generation, in which he describes the progression he saw for the world’s political development, especially in the Western world. “The world erroneously considers Nazism a particular offshoot of Germany,” he wrote. “In truth, it is the offshoot of a democracy and socialism that were left without … manners, and justice. Thus, all the nations are equal in that; there is no hope at all that Nazism will perish with the victory of the allies, for tomorrow the Anglo-Saxons will adopt Nazism, since they, too, live in a world of democracy and Nazism.”

By Debra Lynn

  
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