This has been an extremely difficult couple of days. I watched the town of Fort Myers Beach, where our family stayed in February 2021, become decimated by Hurricane Ian. I have some seashells from Sanibel Island, which is now disconnected from mainland Florida. I saw Times Square in Fort Myers be reduced to rubble, boats overturned on each other.
It has also been very challenging at home. Yesterday the third swastika in a month was discovered at Sacramento State University, a university which is a 10 minute run from my home. UC-Berkeley has developed “Jewish free zones” to prohibit any Zionist of Israeli speaker. On Day 2 of Rosh Hashanah I spoke about the importance of dialogue with people with diverse perspectives but this only applies if they will listen to our perspective rather than intimidating us and engaging in antisemitism. Such people cannot be reasoned with.
My sole consolation is Moses saying to Joshua “Hazak V’Emetz” three times in Parshat VaYelekh. Moses recognized that Joshua’s task was difficult. It would not be easy to keep the Israelites together, as they were facing nations who sought their destruction. We saw how at the slightest sign of conflict, Israelites wanted to return to Egypt. Moses lived this, which is why he told Joshua no matter what happens Hazak V’Ematz-be strong and resolute. And so we shall be. We shall not give into antisemitism nor shall we run away when others attempt to marginalize us-rather we shall fight back. When disasters strike, we shall not throw up our hands but rather rebuild. We will be strong and we will not take the easy path, the course of least resistance, but will remain resolute in facing the challenges that face us.