One recent Friday night, someone spray-painted the words "Death to Dosim
"(slang for observant Jews) on the outside wall of my synagogue in Ramot, Jerusalem.
They wrote it in Hebrew, in four-foot high black letters, opposite the entrance to
Nachshon Hall, named in honor of Nachshon Waxman, the soldier kidnapped and murdered by
Hamas terrorists only three years ago.
"Stupid kids" my own teenagers shrugged when they saw the graffiti.
Probably. But I keep thinking about the hand that wrote those words and who it
might have belonged to. Was it someone who knew that Nachshons parents would be sure
to read it as they entered the synagogue that Shabbat morning? Did they realize that that
Shabbat, in Nachshon Hall, we would be celebrating the bar mitzvah of Dov
Kalmanovichs son, the same Dov Kalmanovich who was one of the intifadas first
victims, whose entire face was burned away by an enemy who wished him dead because he was
a Jew and an Israeli?
What could have brought another Jew and an Israeli, growing up in his own
country, to deface a Jewish house of worship and to wish its occupants dead?
I thought about it. Perhaps it was someone who had seen ultra-Orthodox Jews
throwing stones at cars traveling on nearby Bar Ilan road one Sabbath. Perhaps it was
someone whod watched bearded, black-suited Jews on TV ignoring the siren for
Israels fallen during Memorial Day, or who had read endless newspaper articles about
how the ultra- Orthodox were receiving army exemptions, subsidized rentals, preferred
mortgages, and educational stipends despite the fact that they burn the flag of the
country in which they live and spit in the faces of those whose pockets they empty with
such cynical arrogance, for that is the picture our television and newspapers paint, based
unfortunately on the awful reality.
I, of course, and my family, as well as the Waxman family, and the Kalmanovich
family, are not guilty of any of those crimes. We serve in the army with pride. We support
the State with our taxes and pay our bank mortgages, and our childrens unsubsidized
college tuition. We deplore the disgusting manipulations of corrupt, self-serving
"religious" politicians who callously use our G-d and His holy Torah, to siphon
off funds desperately needed for the unemployed, the handicapped, social and educational
programs, handing them over to those perpetuating a parasitical lifestyle that is as far
from Torah values as it is possible to imagine.
But how could the "stupid kid" who wrote those hateful words know
that? After all, we dont raise our voices in protest when religious extremists
achieve yet another victory against the State and its well being. We dont say out
loud what many of us believe, that the greatest tragedy for the Jewish people in the land
of Israel is the fact that there is an intermingling of synagogue and state. We dont
say loud enough: "One nation, one draft" and those who wont serve, and
wont work, and wont pay taxes, can leave and try their luck siphoning off
funds from the welfare offices in Williamsburg. We dont object that the National
Religious Party is out there with all the rest, its hand outstretched to get its share,
its political agenda geared to its own narrow constituency's interests, and the Torah, and
G-d, and justice and the public good be damned.
Of course, that doesnt mean that the idiot who wrote those hateful words
should be looked at with a forgiving eye. If hes an adult I would tell him to
understand that he has now joined a unique group which includes Hitler and his
brownshirts, Chimelnetzki,and others of that ilk. If hes still a child, then I turn
to his parents and blame them for raising a Jewish child in the land of Israel without a
single Jewish value that would prevent him from desecrating all that is most precious to
us as a people.
And to all the so-called self-appointed "guardians of our faith" who
think that their arrogant disdain for the great majority of the people of Israel can go on
forever, I would say read the handwriting on the wall, for in great part, it is the fruit
of your labor. And to all those Jews who speak at home of "Dosim" as one
disgusting entity that includes every Jew keeping faith with his heritage, I would say
here, look at what youve done, created a little homegrown anti-Semite. And for
myself, and others like me, who deplore the excesses of the religious right but do nothing
publicly to prevent them, I say, we can no longer avoid seeing the handwriting on the
wall, for its our wall theyre writing on.