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March 19, 2024-9 Adar ii 5784

03/18/2024 03:33:04 PM

Mar18

Sunday was a night for Colleyville—and “Colleyville”—the impressive, cogent documentary Dani Menkin has developed since the shocking events that shook Congregation Beth Israel on January 15, 2022. A local pre-screening was oversold: one full auditorium and an overflow screening held rapt attention, as did the Q & A featuring the Director, and so meaningfully, the four who lived the experience—Larry, Jeff, Shane and Rabbi Charlie. That these four weathered that day, have continued in significant ways to strengthen and serve American Jewish life is testimony to the vitality of the community and the secret of Jewish survival. Kawl haKavod—with the greatest respect.

There is magic in filmmaking: taking a moment and giving it a full story and sensible representation. Dani Menkin realized the complexity and discovered the footage that graphically demonstrates the painful, deeply antisemitic events whose regularity in American Jewish experience has exploded in recent years before bursting forth with full venom with the Hamas incursion into Israel. CBI’s own fabulous four resolutely, calmly (to the outside world), outfaced their would-be assassin. Their stoicism worked—as panic would not have—and when they had the opportunity to escape, they did. Baruch ha-Shem—thank God.

Hour by hour through their 11-hour ordeal, we see on screen through the security cameras, TV reports, and the interspersed interview, how the anatomy of the dilemma could be dissected. Angles vary, but the visual serves as the blueprint of the day’s misdeeds. Relief was palpable in the full theater—including the former mayor of Colleyville, the Chief of Police, Fire and FBI representatives whose experience and training were critical to the outcome.

As the Jewish world approaches Shabbat Zachor (Remember what Amalek did to you…in Deuteronomy 25:-17-19, echoing Exodus 15, when self-defense was the order of the day as the newly liberated Israelites defended themselves from an attack from the rear) and Purim whose anti-hero Haman is cast as a descendant of Amalek, we should be cognizant of our vulnerability. Times change, locations change, names change—

plato told

him:he couldn’t
believe it(jesus

told him;he
wouldn’t believe
it)lao

tsze
certainly told
him,and general
(yes

mam)
sherman;
and even
(believe it
or

not)you
told him:i told
him;we told him
(he didn’t believe it,no

sir)it took
a nipponized bit of
the old sixth

avenue
el;in the top of his head:to tell

him


Plato Told, E.E. Cummings, 1944 

 

That seems to me the essence of the message of January 15, for Colleyville, a local event that could so easily be transformed into our own Purim Katan—a local day celebrating self-defense and salvation.

That did not occur by Jewish activity alone. The prior work in Colleyville, including the steps that led to the formation of Peace Together (which I am told grew out of the 2017 Charlottesville, VA march), meant that the Colleyville Masjid, the nearby Methodist Church, and the City services in a city that prides itself on being among the safest, most crime-free in the country, among other friends of the Jewish community, rose in support and solidarity. I can only offer my word of thanks because that coming together underscores the importance of being good neighbors and active participants in a wider community.

As contemporary Jews, living as a minuscule minority in a diverse community, and as a community whose diversity is fundamental to our own declared system of values, we have received more than we could anticipate. For this, I am grateful.

There is another layer to be added: We are living now in the world of the ‘day after October 7.’ Though Gaza seems halfway around the world, the feelings, frustrations, and genuine concern for the Israeli hostages—themselves of diverse origins—for the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) and—aspirationally—for the civilian population of Gaza who suffer greatly—are playing out in American Jewish communities. I have no wish to become like Hamas. I do not want to see the State of Israel slide into a nationalistic, xenophobic enclave; were that to occur—as Senator Chuck Schumer warned last Thursday—the Zionist Movement and its resultant success of creating a homeland and refuge from dispersion would cease.

Only Jews face antisemitism, an irrational, erroneous bias against Jews and Judaism. In our divisive, tenuous world, other minorities which succeed in starting their ascent into middle-class America face similar prejudice, systemic and intentional obstacles to their successful integration into the liberated might of American economic success. Let us not stand idly by.

The remark was made Sunday that January 15, 2022 put Colleyville on the map. I was among the many who had never heard of the city before.

Thu, July 18 2024 12 Tammuz 5784