I received the following message today from the Jewish Federation: “Over the past several weeks a handful of known antisemitic, white supremacist, and neo-Nazi groups have encouraged their followers to participate in a ‘National Day of Hate’ this coming Saturday, February 25th.”
This is the first I’d heard of their plans. I wish I’d known sooner, because I would have gone out of my way to initiate a National Day of Kindness for this Saturday.
The message from Federation went on to assure readers that there are no known credible threats of violence to our local community, but warns the Jewish community to be alert.
The correlation of their plans with this week’s Torah portion demonstrates the enormous gulf between people who choose to hate and people who are committed to being part of a community that is loving and inclusive. The Torah portion invited the Children of Israel to bring to God “an offering, from every person who gives it willingly from his heart.” (Exodus 25:2).
The purpose of the offerings? To build a house for God. Specifically, “Let them make for me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them.” (Ex. 25:8).
This invitation for the people to build a house for God is curious. Did God really plan to move into the neighborhood? If not, who would live there? Not the priestly class; the Torah was pretty clear that they were to live elsewhere.
I think the invitation is for us to create a place where we can go to feel close to God. We know that God is everywhere and nowhere, but sometimes we need to be anchored in our relationship with the Divine. We need a Makom, a Place to be in relationship. Often, those places are synagogues, churches, and mosques.
If the planners of the National Day of Hate had a place to go that was heart opening, positive, and helped them feel good about themselves, would they change their plans? Probably not. But we have the opportunity to send a message to them and the rest of the world, that we will not allow them to hijack our nation, that there is no room in the Makom that is America for hatred.
I hope you will join me in spreading messages of hope and kindness on February 25th and help create a National Day of Kindness.