After the recent loss of his mother, Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch reflects on life’s ephemeral beauty – and the central importance of mothers in our lives.
After a shooting attack on a California synagogue and an anti-Semitic cartoon published in The New York Times left American Jews reeling, Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch addressed anti-Semitism coming from both the right and left:
“Jews do something that no others do: We manage to unite the extreme right and the extreme left. The anti-Semitism of the extreme right is lethal, and the left cannot abide Jews who refuse to abandon their distinctive identity. Fighting back starts in your heart: the best way to defeat those who want to see a world without Jews is to commit and recommit to Jewish life.”
“In every generation, every Jew should feel as if they were personally redeemed from Egypt,” Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch quotes from the Haggadah. “The Haftarah reading for the second day of Passover mentions Natan-Melech once, in passing. But this very week, Israeli archeologists announced that they discovered an ancient, 2,641-year-old seal impression bearing his name. Because Jerusalem is slowly revealing its buried secrets, we can trace our very essence to the source. We would not be here if they had not been there. Today, we are the beating heart of Judaism.”
Speaking about the recent college admissions, Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch says: "The impulse to cheat is always present in our lives – especially in a society like ours that so rewards accomplishment. Jewish tradition teaches that we need to avoid even the first step on the wrong path, and remember that God created human beings imperfect and placed us in an imperfect world – and our task is to improve ourselves."
"Right-wing anti-Semitism inclines towards violence. The anti-Semitism of the left is camouflaged by the rhetoric of human rights, anti-colonialism, liberalism, and white privilege. It tends to be expressed nowadays through hatred of Israel. And starting there – it often stumbles into anti-Semitic rhetoric and actions."
Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch responds to the use of anti-Semitic tropes in recent political discourse, warning us to be wary of efforts to inoculate people from criticism on the basis of race, gender or religion.