It is indeed disturbing to watch the national discourse this election season, especially of those candidates who espouse bigotry and stir up fear and hatred and incite violence in the most callous and careless of ways. Right now, I speak most specifically of Donald Trump, and I speak on behalf of myself only, Rabbi Susan Falk, and not on behalf of CKS as a religious institution. I do this because I believe that Trump has crossed a line that makes it my moral obligation to speak out. Perhaps for some of you, you may be wondering: “What took you so long?” Honestly, like many of you, I have been dumbfounded by the daily barrage of insults (both puerile and despotic); of threats of violence toward protestors and members of the press; of demeaning comments about women; and of cruel, bigoted, and irresponsible “policy” statements, such as threatening to deport 11 million people, or banning all Muslims from entering the country, or returning to water-boarding and other forms of torture.
To be clear, this is not an endorsement of any other candidate. However, what’s happening now, the rhetoric and behavior of Mr. Donald Trump, is not business as usual. Trump is not simply another candidate whose views or policy positions might differ from our own. Trump’s general behavior, incitement of violence, and vulgarity of language make a mockery of our most fundamental of Jewish – and American- values: justice, compassion, peace, and freedom. In my opinion, this requires strenuous protest.
The rabbis of the Talmud compared evil speech to murder. As Jews, we know the power of words. We know all too well the destruction and death that can be caused by words of hatred and violence. We know what happens when people are scapegoated and “othered”. Therefore, at this moment, between the Jewish holidays of Purim and Passover, between the tale of the Hamans of deceit and destruction, and the story of freedom and the redemption of the world, I must speak out and thoroughly denounce the hateful rhetoric and reckless behavior of Donald Trump.
As Passover approaches, let us be vigilant in guarding our most cherished values of justice, compassion, peace, freedom – and kindness toward the stranger – as we remember that we have so often been the stranger ourselves.