Sanctifying G-d’s Name

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OPINION: By TMR contributor Jessica Hoffman.

My oldest child, Jonah, is ten years old. Overall, he is a mensch. Like any fourth grader, he knows how to trash talk, gets into the occasional spat, and can be quite stubborn. But overall, he is a mensch. Jonah finds his rebbes in shul to shake hands and wish them a Good Shabbos. He is as polite to his parents as he is to his friends’ parents. He takes care of his younger siblings. Jonah is very concerned for our happiness. And when we’re in public, he is confident, happy, and kind. I’m kvelling, of course.

I tell my children that when they are in public, they are Jews first and foremost.

All this kvelling made me think a lot about how we teach our children the concepts of “Kiddush Hashem” and “Chilul Hashem,” sanctifying God’s name in public, and embarrassing God’s name in public. We are Jews. When we are in public, we represent every Jew in the world. This may be ridiculous, but many Jewish concepts account for human flaws. This is one of them. I tell my children that when they are in public, they are Jews first and foremost.

So when millions of people march in solidarity in France, and the signs read “Je Suis Charlie” and “Je Suis Juif,” I look around for other slogans. I see “Je Suis Ahmed” and “Je Suis Muslim” and this makes me happy. Identifying yourself and answering questions is important. Hiding is not. I am disappointed when a Muslim says, “Those bad guys are not Muslim because they are bad guys.” That’s not how that works, people. The bad guys who committed the Charlie Hebdo and kosher supermarket murders were Muslim and they were bad guys.

When Yitzchak Rabin was assassinated by a Jew, we did not say, “That man is not a Jew.”

When Yitzchak Rabin was assassinated by a Jew, we did not say, “That man is not a Jew.” We were ashamed, we were disappointed, and we were pissed off that he had exemplified what Chilul Hashem means. But we did not deny his Jewishness.

Is there a fear that identifying the enemy with broad strokes is dangerous? Yes, there should be that fear. It is dangerous.

American Muslims are not the bad guys. When polled, it was found that perhaps 13%  sympathized with extremism. The vast majority of Muslims are not terrorists, but more than 19,000 terrorist attacks in the world since 9/11 have been committed by Muslims. The bad guys are ruining it for everybody.

Is there a fear that identifying the enemy with broad strokes is dangerous? Yes, there should be that fear. It is dangerous. Separating “the other” is step one in the “how to conquer and enslave a people” handbook. The media is afraid that identifying individual Muslim terrorists as Muslim will translate into broad strokes. I don’t agree. I just think the wrong people are at the podium. If the vast majority of Muslims in this country who are horrified by terrorism were vociferously condemning their coreligionists that engage in terror they would be the face of the War against Terror. Just imagine! All news stations should be giving them the stage and normalizing that kind of conversation.

Overseas, it is mostly Muslims being killed by Muslim terrorists, but they live in countries that are largely sympathetic with extremism. They are the minority in the Middle East, and they need brave Muslims to speak up as much as we do.

Jessica HoffmanJessica Hoffman is a writer, mom, CrossFitter, and teacher at Derech Emunah. Jessica has written for Kveller, LadyMama, Jewneric, JOFA Journal, NW Beauty, and more. She and her husband Ari have 3 children, operate Seattle NCSY, and are active members of the Seward Park community.

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