There should be joy simply that such a Jewish custom as Tashlich, which literally means to toss, was being observed with a ceremony at the United Nations attended by Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and United Nations Ambassadors from over ten countries and other dignitaries presided over by Rabbi Arthur Schneier of the Park East Synagogue. But there is so much more to find as a blessing than this event having taken place, and the bread cast into the East River may be a blessing to any fish sturdy enough to reside in these waters, as this idea was not a result of anything done by the Israeli United Nations staff or by the Jews of the United States but by a group of Europeans who call themselves the Forum for Cultural Diplomacy (F4CD). The ceremony was held in the resplendent Rose Garden of the UNHQ, and allegorically threw the bread of their “sins” into the East River, may the waters of the East River ever survive and recover from the shock of such a casting of sins. The real miracle is the Forum for Cultural Diplomacy which is a pro-Israel European Christian group and is wholly responsible for this miracle of so many dimensions. Probably the best ways to reveal the scope and breadth of this not so minor miracle might be to allow the video of the event speak for itself.
There were two founding members from the F4CD, Dr. Gregory Lafitte and Tomas Sandell, who spoke and told of their reasoning behind their initiative. Dr. Gregory Lafitte spoke clearly and succinctly demanding that, granting the Jewish People “Tolerance is not the answer. It is not enough to ‘tolerate’ the Jewish people, but we need to honor and celebrate their culture and their many contributions to mankind.” Dr. Lafitte went so far as to conclude his speech with a rendition of the Avinu Malkeinu prayer. It is nested here in the declaration by Dr. Lafitte that we come upon the miracle, the gem in the center of this entire event, the demand by Righteous European Christians for humankind to not simply tolerate the Jews but to thank them for the basis for so much of our modern society, the Jews contribution to not only justice but to justly work towards justice with no regard for wealth or lack thereof, position of importance or one of meager standing, king or pauper, man or woman, elder or the youngest amongst you, to justly apply justice with complete blindness to the petitioner or the petitioned, with only the inward seeking eye of fairness and impartiality, this amongst all the gifts societies have garnered from the Bible and its lessons. Dr. Lafitte also alluded to the rising groundswell of anti-Semitism sweeping Europe and that at the United Nations there is the “Isaiah Wall” featuring the verse from Isaiah, Chapter 2, prophesying a time when “swords will be turned into plowshares.”
Outgoing Israeli Ambassador Prosor addressed the gathering stating, “We are here today to participate in a unique tradition – Tashlich, which literally means to toss. It’s an opportunity to symbolically cast off the sins of the past and let the flowing water carry away the shortcomings of the previous year. As we mark the 70th anniversary of the United Nations this is an opportunity to reflect off this institution where it has fallen short and where we have not done enough to alleviate human suffering. Seventy years on, it is time for voices of reason, of tolerance and moderation to reclaim the public space.”
Rabbi Arthur Schneier stated, “The fact that we are gathering here at the UN shows the respect that the United Nations has for all faiths, their holidays and for their stress on human dignity. Day of Atonement means to be at one – at one with God and one with man.”
The reason this struck me as being so meaningful is because there is now a balance with the F4CD group of Christians in Europe added to groups such as CUFI (Christians United for Israel) in the United States that maybe the world will have finally found the track which will grant the Jewish People the respect for their existence, their homelands and their contributions which continue to this day in so many fields of endeavor contributing to the advancement of human knowledge that perhaps the waves of anti-Semitism can start to be turned back and not just contained but eliminated. I have known that even if the Jewish People were to stand with one voice and demand as proud and loud as possible for their being tolerated and given what is due them even if not respected in all manner of dealings; such would be as a whisper in the hurricane that is modern society. The Jews pleading their case is but a weak cry from deep within the wilderness, a sound which can never carry the fury to demand to be heard as we are barely one-fifth of one percent (0.2%) of the world’s population.
If the Jewish People are ever to be allowed to live even vaguely resembling normal lives treated as equals with guaranteed rights it will take voices supporting the Jewish People, and by extension, Israel, from outside the Jewish communities. It literally comes down to a game of numbers and in the world we Jews are far too few to make our own case without outside support, and it needs to be unwavering and unconditional support. With these Christian groups willing to stand with us, or almost basically for us, we then have one obligation which we owe these wonderful people willing at last to risk alienation and rejection to stand with us, to stand with the Jew, both as a people and as a nation, Israel, and that is to remain honorable, upright, caring and most of all deserving of their support. Yes there exists the need for those who have wronged the Jews throughout history, and that list is a virtual list of who’s who of nations and backgrounds stretching from one side of the globe through to the other, with hatred of Jews and by implication, Israel, almost the constant which ties the world as one and to be in the Jews corner at long last.
Having Christians willing to stand for Israel and for the Jewish People is a very healthy start and we can only pray that these groups gain in strength and numbers as those are the things which grease the skids upon which all civilization rests. The Jewish People, often as individuals, have contributed so much to the modern limited government concepts through the limitations placed on a King or other sovereign against their gathering unto themselves riches at the expense of their subjects and instead demanded of each sovereign to write their very own Torah Scroll such that their everyday is another lesson in humility and sacrifice for the betterment of the people. All too often Jewish and Israeli leadership has seemingly lost their way and thus lost their perspective and gathered themselves riches in direct contravention of the Biblical directives. This new group of friends needs to be cultivated and worked alongside with to provide them a clearer picture of the state of the world, the anti-Semitic, anti-Zionist and anti-Israel NGO, government or other grouping all of which can be competed against utilizing simple facts. These very same facts require our assistance in defining the areas where their assistance can produce the greatest return on their efforts.
These groups need be armed with facts and the reality and ramification of the San Remo Conference, the Mandate Systems, the Churchill White Papers, the occupation of Judea and Samaria by Jordan, the Golan Heights by Syria and Gaza by Egypt. The rightful demands of the Israelis need to be heard above the cacophonous din of lies, half-truths, innuendo and outright deceit spread far, wide and loudly. These allies will need to study research of the past in order to form an unbiased decision, one that is probably not going to rest well with those demanding that the Jews have no claim for visiting the Temple Mount or that there need be another nation called Palestine, let alone replacing Israel with such a state. Still, it is of paramount importance that Jews and Israel continue to cultivate acceptance where possible and true friendship with those who know Jewish history and support Israel in her struggles for peace, a just and true peace which will last forever. The reality is that in Europe, as in the rest of the world, Israel and the Jewish People have some very staunch supporters and a general support amongst those who understand the problems Israel faces daily and must find means of dealing with a very vocal minority in most instances whose incessant demands often in the form of the BDS movement such that they lose the support of those who still regard Jews as an evil blight to be wiped from the face of what they consider their planet. These are the flies in the ointment which must be isolated, something Prime Minister Netanyahu claims he can accomplish by speaking at the United Nations this week. If only his words were sufficient to drown out the raucous few who largely occupy the extreme ends of the political spectrum, both extreme right and left. If only his words would suffice.
Beyond the Cusp