We all know who’s fueling the hate; So say it

During Sunday’s sermon at Judson Memorial Church, the names of the slain at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue were read. Toward the service’s end, Warren Goldstein, center, husband of Judson Senior Minister Donna Shaper, read the Mourner’s Kaddish in English and Hebrew, with Anne Eisenstein, left, the granddaughter of Mordecai Kaplan, the founder of Reconstructionism Judaism; and community minister Beth Hermelin. Photo by Tequila Minsky

BY WARREN GOLDSTEIN | I am a Jew married to a Christian minister — the Reverend Donna Schaper, senior minister of Judson Memorial Church, the progressive United Church of Christ/American Baptist arts-and-social justice church on Washington Square, where this photo was taken. That fact alone ought to indicate that I don’t feel particularly tribal about being Jewish.

But there’s nothing like a massacre of people you resemble to focus the attention on tribal identity. What to do when people like me get shot for being Jews on a Shabbat morning? And I’m a straight, 67-year-old white guy whose mother grew up in Pittsburgh, whose parents met and married there, and who has relatives who attended Tree of Life Synagogue.

Well, we gather, we pray and we recite the Mourner’s Kaddish, the powerful prayer that concludes all Jewish services. We can say it anywhere, even in the middle of a church service. Remarkably, the Kaddish does not even mention death. Instead it begins by praising the name of God, then asks that the divine name be further praised, blessed, glorified, exalted, extolled, honored, lifted up and honored beyond all possible blessings. Finally, it asks for peace, in one of the most beautiful passages in Judaism, the Oseh Shalom. (You can find many musical versions online, from the peppy to the profoundly poignant.)

More precisely, it asks that the divine source of all peace inspire us to make peace for ourselves and for all others — in other words, to organize.

Sunday, Ann and Beth (in the photo) and I, and many congregants who opened their phones, were reciting together, and as much as I wanted the words to feel inspiring, they felt heavy, mournful, somber.

Because in order to make peace, we need first to talk truth, and say who provided the soil, the nourishment, the encouragement and the spark to these homegrown terrorists and killers: the would-be pipe bomber of Democrats; the racist Kentucky Kroger murderer; the Pittsburgh killer.

Not, alas, according to Sunday’s New York Times: “The anguish of Saturday’s massacre heightened a sense of national unease over increasingly hostile political rhetoric.” Really? I don’t feel unease — I feel rage at the Trumpian big lies.

Seriously, who on the right is expressing unease? Congressional Republicans? Sarah Huckabee Sanders? Franklin Graham? Lou Dobbs? Sean Hannity? I’ll give you David Brooks. Maybe Jonah Goldberg.

And whose “hostile rhetoric?” Who’s running racist campaign ads?

Enough squeamishness from the MSM. The violent, hateful rhetoric comes overwhelmingly from one side only and from its padron, Donald Trump. Period.

Who have their rhetorical targets been? Immigrants, Democrats, black people and George Soros. And who were actual targets last week? Democrats, blacks and immigrant- and refugee-supporting Jews.

This isn’t a “correlation.” It’s cause and effect. Rhetoric from the top prepares, nourishes and sparks actions in the field. That’s the truth we need to declare, print, shout — and take into the voting booth. Then maybe we can start making peace.

Here’s how the Kaddish ends: “v’imru amen” (“and let us say, Amen”).

Goldstein teaches U.S. history at University of Hartford and chairs its History Department. He is the author of “William Sloane Coffin, Jr., A Holy Impatience.” 

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