A suicide bomber blew up a bus full of Israeli tourists in Burgas, Bulgaria on Wednesday, killing six people and injuring over 30.
These people were on vacation. They went to a resort city to relax and to get away for a bit, as we all do every now and again. They chose a destination that was different and interesting from their normal environs, yet noted for a comparative absence of anti-Semitism.
And yet, Jewish blood was deliberately shed. Again.
Note I said Jewish blood, not Israeli blood. The person or people who committed this unspeakable act murdered my people. I may be American and not Israeli, but it doesn’t matter: these people were murdered because they were Jewish. Just like the rabbi and children in Toulouse, France earlier this year. Just like the bombing at the Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, Argentina 18 years ago. Just like the brutal murders at the Munich Olympics 40 years ago–murders which the world still refuses to honor with even one minute of silence.
When the world refuses to grant even one minute of silence to honor those Israeli athletes brutally murdered by terrorists in the 1972 Olympics, one can’t help but hear the underlying unspoken message: “Jewish blood is cheap.” And now, it has happened again.
When we say “never again,” what do we mean? Do we really mean “Never again will the exact scenarios of Auschwitz and Birkenau and Treblinka and Dachau happen?” or “Never again will we allow the world to sit idly by while trains full of Jewish men, women, and children are taken to their deaths?” or “Never again will we allow armies to line up Jewish families in front of pits and shoot them, barely covering their mass graves with kicks of dirt at the end of the day?”
That’s not what I mean when I say “never again.”
What I mean is, never again should we allow people to be treated like garbage, as though they were worthless. Never again should we allow the world to deny or ignore the horrors that reside within it. And never again should we fail to acknowledge that out in the world, there are truly evil people who are out to kill us simply because we are Jewish.
And also, the flip side of that coin is that I will never, ever deny who I am. I will teach my children to be Jews, to know what being Jewish means and to be proud that they are Jews. And if I have done my job right, they will do the same for their children and grandchildren.
Please join me tonight, Friday night, in doing honor to our people. Please gather your family around you and light Shabbat candles together. Do it as a tribute to those who have fallen because of who they are. Do it to honor your heritage and who you are, and to honor the beautiful, multifaceted history of the Jewish people.
Do it as a promise of what you hope we and our families will become. Light the candles against the ever-present, ever-encroaching darkness that threatens to consume it.