by Jessica Easthope
To the naked eye Rabbi Brad Hirschfield is a world away from the turmoil in the Middle East, but the reality is, that’s the furthest thing from the truth.
Rabbi Hirschfield is the President of the National Jewish Center For Learning and Leadership and he and his family are joining the fight from where they are.
“There is nothing special about what I and my family are going through,” Rabbi Hirschfield said. “In fact, we’re lucky we haven’t buried anyone close to us. I can’t say that for some of my friends. I have a daughter, one of her friends fell in battle a few days ago, I have nephews at war but it is also happening to hundreds of thousands and millions of people in Israel.”
The Rabbi is coordinating supply shipments to displaced civilians and troops on the front lines.
“Yes, march yes, donate yes, try and rally political support, all that is important, I would even say sacred,” Rabbi Hirschfield said. “But what we saw, and what we continue to see, is a confrontation with evil.”
Rabbi Hirschfield said everyone has a part to play in this conflict; your position will determine the course of history.
He said Hamas’ initial assault along the Israeli border was also an assault on a free Palestine.
“I do believe in Palestinian self-determination; how can I not?” Rabbi Hirschfield said. “I’m a proud Zionist but when people conflate support for Palestine with support for Hamas, a perverse combination of tactics and practices borrowed from Hitler’s SS and the Islamic State, that is not about self determination, that is about murder, that is about death. There is no “but” when it comes to shooting and burning babies.”
Last Saturday, into Sunday saw the most Jews murdered for being Jewish since the end of the Holocaust. Rabbi Hirschfield said having rage is understandable but it needs to come with a condition.
“Show me the person who with whatever they’re feeling on the negative side can still locate a place of hope and act in light of both of those. That is how everyone regardless of politics can actually make a positive difference.”
In the coming days Rabbi Hirschfield will bring a group of American Jewish leaders to Israel to show them what the state is up against.