Reacting to the US Holocaust Museum Attack
There is no gainsaying the beauty and appropriateness of Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zweibel’s letter to the son of Stephen Tyrone Johns. It demonstrates both the chochmah and lev of talmidei chachamim.
There is also no gainsaying that the perception of the attack by much of the rest of the world is different than the way many of our readers see it. We regard it as the next of a seemingly infinite series of anti-Semitic attacks. We have been used to them since Sinai, and expect them till Moshiach. Outside our community, however, the attack took on iconic value. Because the Holocaust looms so large in the way non-Jews – friends and enemies, each in their own way – look at Jews, an attack on the US Holocaust Museum was seen by them as a dagger in the heart of all Jewry. (It is the non-Jewish analogue to the way we saw the attack on Mercaz Harav, and the massacre of its kedoshim.)
Because of this, the eyes of the world will be upon our response. Will Jews reach out and support those who pay a terrible price for them, just as they are renowned for always taking care of their own?
One appropriate way to do so is to make sure that the family of Stephen Tyrone Johns is cared for as best as possible. The US Holocaust Museum has set up a fund for the family. You might consider going there and demonstrating that the Jewish reputation for caring for those who cared for them is well deserved. This is one stereotype that we might want to preserve, not destroy.
R’ Zweibel certainly isn’t covering himself or his organization in glory in defending this chaplain in the Tombs.
Nachum Lamm: Given the topic of this post, you first should have praised Rabbi Zweibel for his very moving letter before criticizing him with regard to another issue.