Silence is Complicity
A message from David Young
President, Temple Beth Am
As I drove to work a few weeks ago, I saw that someone had graffitied “King Ye!” on a Metrorail pillar. What once was only in the shadows is now out in the open. I would not be silent.
I pulled over to the side of the road, took a photo and texted it to my Miami city commissioner, Ken Russell. Commissioner Russell had a city crew remove the graffiti immediately. He texted me later that day with a photo of the clean pillar. He captioned his message, “Erasing Kanye, one pole at a time.”
My mother, of blessed memory, told me a story about when she was in 5th grade at Horace Mann Elementary in Bayonne, New Jersey. Two boys would bully her all the time. One day on her walk home from school, my grandfather saw what was happening. He physically picked up these two boys by their shirt collars and told them to stop — or else. My mom never had any more trouble with them.
When I was at Tulane University, a social fraternity held a “Jew Party” on Yom Kippur, at which everyone wore fake glasses with bushy eyebrows and big noses. Too bad for them that I was president of the student body and got the fraternity thrown off campus.
We must stand up to bullies. We cannot afford to be silent.
After having dinner with former President Trump and a well-known white supremacist, Ye (formerly Kanye West) went on a radio show and said, “I like Hitler. I love Jewish people, but I also love Nazis.” Like you, I feel disgusted and angry. Why would anyone love a Nazi? And why would anyone give him a platform?
Political leaders on both sides of the aisle have condemned the recent increase in antisemitic behavior by public individuals. A former Republican Secretary of State stated, “Antisemitism is a cancer. We stand with the Jewish people in the fight against the world’s oldest bigotry.” Megan McCain tweeted, “We must call out this vile evil and do better. This didn’t just happen in a vacuum; it’s been building for years.”
Perhaps the strongest words of condemnation came from President Biden. He tweeted, “I just want to make a few things clear: The Holocaust happened. Hitler was a demonic figure. And instead of giving it a platform, our political leaders should be calling out and rejecting antisemitism wherever it hides. Silence is complicity.”
Yes, indeed. Silence is complicity. I call on all of you to speak out. If you see something, say something. We must confront the bullies among us.
On Shabbat, I was sitting in the sanctuary watching two B’nai Mitzvah families on the bimah saying the blessings over the candles and wine, and it hit me. I finally figured out what we can all do to combat antisemitism. The joy and the kvelling by the two families showed me the light.
We need to be Jewish. We need to lead by example. We need to go to temple as a family. We need to teach our younger family members the importance of being Jewish. Families need to come to Beth Am not only for the holidays but for our incredible programming. By enjoying being Jewish, we will ensure that the bigots will not win. For our entire history, the antisemites wanted to eliminate the Jews. We have the power—not them.
So, as we begin 2023 and our campus continues to grow, I hope that all of you will grow and become a more active part of Beth Am. Our future depends on it.