A PASSOVER LETTER TO MY FRIENDS

by Rabbi Corinne Copnick

Poster Credit: Jewish Multiracial Network

There is an insidious effort today to split Jews on issues of color, racism, islamophobia, etc.  And once again we see the rise of hard-right, white supremacists both in America and globally. Although sadly, we are also verbally assaulted by leftist extremists, we need to be most watchful of the white supremacy playbook, which labels Jews as privileged whites responsible for colonialism, the slave trade, mass incarceration, and other forms of oppression. Even the Holocaust is dismissed as a “white-on-white” crime and therefore of little import. From this twisted point of view, the State of Israel is a colonial enterprise and should be destroyed.

It should be remembered that from biblical times, the Jewish religion has been color blind. The Hebrew Bible itself is instructive on this issue. When Miriam gossiped about Moses’ wife because she was a Cushite – that is, black – God punished Miriam for the sin of lashon hora by afflicting her skin with the white scales of disease.

It’s a well-known fact that the color of our skins is mainly influenced over time by the angle of the sun – and consequently the strength of the radioactive rays emitted – in the places where we live. That’s right, where we live determines the color of our skin. Like all of God’s creatures, we adapt to our environments. Additionally, there are some genetic factors.

Originally from Western Asia and therefore indigenous to Israel (where, despite persecution, a small presence was continuously maintained), most Jewish people were propelled by antisemitism through the centuries to live in disparate places geographically. For example, for 400 years we were slaves in Egypt (in North Africa). As a result, Jews today can claim the privilege of being multi-colored.

As Passover approaches, the holiday symbolizing Jewish belief that every human being has the right to live in freedom and dignity, let me wish people of all colors and religious persuasions: CHAG SAMEACH L’PESACH! A JOYOUS PASSOVER!