STUDENTS FROM Germany visit the Hall of Names at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Readers of my columns and books have been asking me why I am not more focused on the subject which initially brought me to public attention, namely, relationships, sexuality and marital counseling.
My 1998 book Kosher Sex became an international best-seller that led to national TV shows and international book promotion. It was followed by several other best-sellers on dating and child-rearing. So what led you to become a Hebrew warrior for Israel, they ask me? My response is that, believe me, I’d much rather make love than war. It would be wonderful to focus on rescuing families, as I did on my national TV show for TLC, Shalom in the Home. Indeed, I just filmed a pilot for a national network to launch a new relationship advice show and I hope it will begin airing soon.
So why have I diverted so much of my time and my organization’s resources to fighting for Israel? Well, as King Solomon said, “There is a time for peace and a time for war.”
I wish this were a time for peace. I wish that the situation of world Jewry were such that we didn’t have to worry about Iran trying to nuke us, Hezbollah trying to shoot us, and Hamas trying to blow us up. I wish we didn’t have to worry about being beaten up for wearing kippot on the streets of London, being shot outside synagogues in Copenhagen for praying, or being murdered outside grocery stores in Paris for buying Shabbat bread.
Sadly, this is not that time.
So many of us were convinced that the world had quenched its lust for Jewish blood with the murder of six million Jews in the Holocaust. But with the new global outbreak of anti-Semitism and the incessant genocidal threats against Jews from Iran and Hamas, not to mention the never-ending Israel hatred in Europe, it appears we were wrong.
My organization, The World Values Network, was set up to promote the Jewish people as a light unto the nations and to share our life-affirming values with the world.
But over the past year we have had to witness and confront appalling and unspeakable circumstances as they unfold across the globe. Rather than focus on the light the Jewish people can bring to the world, we’ve had to fight a lot of darkness.
Over the past 12 months, the largest outbreak of anti-Semitism since the Holocaust has seen giant marches in Germany calling for Jews to be gassed. It has seen Israel assaulted with thousands of rockets and via tunnels in a war against Palestinian terrorists. It has seen the growing demonization of Israel, especially on American campuses, with attempts to destroy Israel economically by subjecting the Jewish state to horrendous boycotts. And it has seen, above all else, the legitimization of Iran through direct negotiations with the United States, even while Iran calls for the annihilation of six million Jews in Israel.
Six million. That number has a special resonance for us Jews. And this year at our gala dinner on May 28, as we commemorate the 70th anniversary since the end of the European death camps we decided that our Champions of Jewish Values International Awards Gala would spotlight those men and women dedicated to preserving the memory of the sacred six million of the Holocaust, as well as honor those who fight every day to ensure that “Never Again” means precisely that.
Foremost among these individuals is my great teacher, mentor and friend, the world’s preeminent Jewish personality and the living embodiment of the Holocaust, Elie Wiesel. He is joined by a special and incredible guest: Jacqueline Van Maarsen, Anne Frank’s best friend, who is coming to us from Amsterdam to speak about her legendary friend, the young woman who has become the Holocaust’s most famous victim. In this time when the Jewishness of Anne Frank is being diminished by those attempting to trivialize the Holocaust, her personal testimony is especially poignant. We also have the great Sir Ben Kingsley, who co-starred in the film Schindler’s List, and who portrayed Otto Frank in Anne Frank: The Whole Story.
Then there are Israel’s righteous and courageous defenders. Leading them is my own great Senator from New Jersey, Robert Menendez, the scourge of tyrants everywhere and a great champion of freedom and human rights. Joining him is that most eloquent of Israel’s advocates and a lion in its defense, Senator Ted Cruz, as well as that tremendous supporter of Israel who has bravely battled for the Jewish state over the decades, former House speaker Newt Gingrich. We also have Carolyn Maloney, the outstanding New York Congresswoman who has fought for Israel throughout her career, and whom I met for the very first time last year, on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, January 27, as she emerged from viewing the gas chambers with former House majority leader Eric Cantor, during a visit to Auschwitz with the Israeli Knesset.
The dinner is being hosted by Dr. Miriam and Sheldon Adelson along with Judy and Michael Steinhardt who are the most famous global names in Jewish philanthropy.
The VIP reception co-hosts are the Falic family, who are legend for the number of causes in Israel they support, as well as Mona and David Sterling who have left their imprint on nearly every New York Jewish charity.
It would be wonderful if this were a time of peace. Yet for all our cries of “peace, peace,” there seems to be no peace.
I have been fortunate to have written books about saving marriages and to have counseled thousands of couples to increase love in the world. But I am equally dedicated to ensuring, as we recall the memory of six million sacred martyrs just 70 years after the Holocaust, that we create a world that never have a need for martyrs again.
We must always strive for peace and we must always promote love. But we must likewise be prepared to fight for human life when it is assaulted by those forces animated by hate and not by love.The author, “America’s rabbi,” whom The Washington Post calls “the most famous rabbi in America,” is the international best-selling author of 30 books, including The Fed-up Man of Faith: Challenging God in the Face of Tragedy and Suffering. Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.