Embracing Unity in the Face of Hatred

April 26, 2024 / 18 Nissan 5784

In the midst of the profound challenges facing our nation and the Jewish community, we turn to the Torah for wisdom and guidance. In this week’s Passover Shabbat, we encounter a text that is both deeply familiar and profoundly illuminating from the Book of Exodus that includes verse 34:6, “Gd, Gd, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in kindness and faithfulness.”

This verse and the following 34:7, known as the “Thirteen Attributes of Mercy,” are a powerful reminder of the inherent compassion and kindness at the heart of our tradition. Yet, its structure holds a deeper lesson for our times. The verse begins and ends with descriptions of Gd’s compassion and kindness, sandwiching the attribute of being “slow to anger” in between.

In this structure, we find a message of unity and togetherness. Just as the attributes of compassion and kindness envelop and embrace the patience of being “slow to anger,” so too must we envelop one another with compassion and kindness, embracing our shared humanity and transcending the divisions that threaten to tear us apart.

As we witness the alarming rise of antisemitism on college campuses and the vitriolic hate expressed in protests, we are called to respond with unity and strength. We cannot stand idly by in the face of such hatred and intolerance. Instead, we must come together, supporting one another and building a community rooted in the values of compassion, kindness, and faithfulness.

Our sages teach us the importance of this unity through the parable of the bundle of sticks. Just as a single stick can be easily broken, but a bundle of sticks remains strong, so too are we stronger when we stand together. As the famous Jewish scholar and philosopher Maimonides wrote, “The strength of the community is greater than that of the individual.”

In these challenging times, we must take action. Every university graduate, whether these protests are taking place at your alma mater or not, should contact your institution and express your outrage or gratitude. For those whose universities have been afflicted by these hateful demonstrations, a simple message can make a difference: “I am horrified by the antisemitic protests on campus. These bullying and discriminatory actions must be stopped immediately. My university must do more to protect its Jewish students and faculty.” For those fortunate enough to have been spared such hatred, a word of thanks is in order: “I am grateful that my university has been a welcoming and inclusive environment for all. Thank you for your leadership in promoting tolerance and respect.” Feel free to copy and paste the above into an email or use the script for a direct phone call.

Let us remember that we must not stand idly by. When we embrace the attributes of compassion, kindness, and faithfulness, and take action to combat hatred and intolerance, we can build a community that reflects the highest ideals of our tradition. Because we are…


Shabbat Shalom.