Rabbi Doug Alpert shared his thoughts on Charlottesville on Facebook, which we are now sharing here, in its entirety:
I really have endeavored to keep my responses on Facebook to what is perceived as politically acrimonious conversation to a minimum. I believe what I believe, and base those beliefs on my understanding of what our Jewish values dictate we do as a people. (I have no expectation of unanimity in regard to my beliefs, nor do I think Facebook is necessarily the best venue for reasoned conversation.)
All the while I have preferred to speak through action; being present to support the disenfranchised as a way to be obvious as to my strongly held positions, whether or not I speak in those moments. Anyone who knows me knows where I stand on the many issues that confront our community, our nation and our world.
However, certain moments present themselves which I feel demand that I, as rabbi speak. This is one of those moments.
If the Neo-Nazis and KKK who marched in Charlottesville had never made a disparaging comment about Jews I would still feel a sense of moral outrage for their clear, unequivocal hate and racism. I am blessed to work with many clergy from the African-American community; clergy who are not only colleagues, but friends with whom I share values, and an overarching feeling of compassion for the broad and diverse community in which we live. That we even have to explain, assert or debate the evil and racist actions of Neo-Nazis, the KKK or white supremacists which has persisted for decades if not centuries is something I will never understand.
But the truth is that, in addition to their unbridled racism they continue to make anti Semitism a centerpiece of their ugly, inhumane ideology. Here I quote their chant, “you will not replace us, Jew will not replace us.” Likewise, the poster I saw publicizing their gathering in Charlottesville made anti Semitism the centerpiece, the raison d’être for their actions.
There is no middle-ground, no moral equivalence, no equivocating for Neo-Nazi/KKK ugly, vicious hatred. Unless those who profess to lead us make a crystal clear statement rejecting Neo-Nazis/KKK/White Supremacists, they are complicit in their actions. To lead in a time of hatred and ugliness, a time when hate crimes against people of color, queers, immigrants, Muslims and all who are disenfranchised are on the rise since the last election means you have to choose a side. If our society is not a fully inclusive and just society; one that honors Blacks and all people of color, immigrants, the LGBTQ community, Muslims and women, we will always be deficient in the eyes of G-d.
As a rabbi who has been taught, and continues to pass on those lessons of my teachers to love the stranger as G-d loves the stranger, I will not rest until the forces for good win the day. We must not normalize hate and bigotry, not now, not ever. I look forward to the day where we do recognize that all of us are created B’Tzelem Elohim-in G-d’s image.
כן יהי רצון. May that be G-d’s Will.
Rabbi Doug Alpert