Today is a day that I reaffirm the existence of G-d. It is a day of mixed emotions, a day that should have been a happy celebration that the injustice of Jonathan Pollard’s life sentence had finally been partially resolved. The Jewish world should be rejoicing at Pollard’s early Morning release, instead we sit shocked and shattered by the senseless killing of more Jews in Israel.
Growing up in Montreal, I never took Jewish studies with Rabbi Don at CHAT. But hearing the testimonials of some of his former students, I can’t help but think that the world was robbed of a great man and a super teacher.I didn’t know 18 year old Ezra Schwartz, but from everything I’ve read about him, he was a decent young man with a promising future, killed for the crime of being a Jew in the Jewish State.
And the world remains silent.
Just a week ago, we commemorated Remembrance Day, saluting our fallen war soldiers. During many Canadian ceremonies, the poem ‘In Flanders Fields’ was read:
“Take up our quarrel with a foe, to you with failing hand we throw, the torch, let it be yours to hold it high..”
Such a Jewish concept, Tikun Olam, lighting up the world. We are the torch bearers and the jealousy of that has fuelled anti-Jewish sentiments for the better part of 3000 years.
Yet, with all the torture, abuse, murder and genocide, Jews have survived and thrived. Despite the constant danger, Jews like Ezra Scwartz still go out and do chesed work, still visit and live in the land of Israel and still follow the principles of Torah Judaism.
Last week, after a terror attack in Paris, France, the world spent days lamenting, analyzing and mourning the dead. Buildings put up the French flag colours, Facebook offered a French Flag filter for pictures, Obama gave a condolence speech, sporting events stopped for a minute of silence.
Who will remember Rabbi Don or Ezra Schwartz? How will their legacies be preserved? Will the world finally take notice now that an American was killed in Israel?
But at the end, all we hear is silence. Mr Obama, where is your statement? Where are the blue and white lighted buildings? Where are the delayed sporting events playing Hatikvah?
Unfortunately In the world view, Jewish life is cheap.
I believe we should take the light shining from the remarkable lives of Rabbi Don and Ezra Schwartz and pay it forward. Don’t let their deaths be in vain.
Do more mitzvot, be nicer, help more people and for heavens sake, enjoy life. Doing this will not only be a fitting tribute to the two murdered Jews, but will also be a message to the terrorist that they can’t win. You can kick us, kill us and spit on us, you will never break us.
Howie Silbiger is the host of The Howie Silbiger Show which airs live 6-9pm on Sunday nights on 1650 AM in Montreal or online at www.radio-shalom.ca