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Update: We have published the The Tree of Life – November 2018!

The Tree of Life

“Only that historian will have the gift of fanning the spark of hope in the past who is firmly convinced that even the dead will not be safe from the enemy if he wins. And the enemy has not ceased to be victorious.”

Walter Benjamin

Mass shootings are a symptom of the deep stresses tearing at the fabric of our society and our economy. Some mass shootings hit closer to home than others due to their targets or their location, and in the last year two hit me particularly hard: the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School eighteen miles from my home, and last Saturday’s attack at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In the early and mid-2000s, when I was a member of the lay leadership of one of the largest conservative congregations in the country and chaired the board of trustees of a large Jewish Day School, we worried constantly about attacks on our facilities. The Jewish community was blessed to avoid such tragedies until last Saturday.

Anti-Semitism runs deep in the world. I have encountered it throughout my life from the time kids threw pennies at me when I walked into junior high school on Long Island in the 1970s (I joined the wrestling team to solve that problem) to my time working on Wall Street. The causes are complex but the reality is undeniable: many people hate Jews. But the one truth I learned about hatred of Jews that applies equally to hatred of blacks or Muslims or women or any other group is that it springs from hatred of self. People who hate other types of people hate themselves, and they do so with unspeakable intensity. And once people start hating, it is impossible

 
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