By Cantor Mark Perman
We have all been troubled, I would hope, by the events in Syria over the past two years. Estimates are that 60,000 civillians have died, many more have been wounded, and there are approximately 650,000 refugees awaiting resettlement in various Middle Eastern countries. One would think that seeing an oppressed population rising up against a dictatorial regime would inspire those who live in freedom and democracy to rally to the cause, encouraging our leaders to send humanitarian aid, much needed supplies, and support even in the form of weapons technology. And yet many voices are silent.
The irony, of course, is that we Jews are commanded to stand for righteousness and against tyranny and evil. “Like a muddled spring or a polluted fountain is a righteous man who gives way before the wicked” Proverbs 25:26. And those of us who were very young in the 60’s and 70’s heard early on how the world did nothing while the Nazis stood by and slaughtered our people along with so many others. We were often told about those good people who stood by in the face of evil and did nothing and that they were guilty on some level…because they knew better but yet remained silent.
Thankfully there are individuals like Shlomo Bolts and R’ Shmuly Yanklowitz who recently created the following page on Facebook called: “Fund Democracy in Syria, not the Assad regime.” Many have been responding both within the Jewish community and outside on how we finally need to say enough is enough and have some form of intervention in Syria (even in the form of a no-fly zone over the country), as well as in other places in the world where the wicked run rampant. It is simply not right to allow innocents to die because they had the misfortune to have been born in a country that either restricts or totally eliminates any kind of civil rights including the right to a fair trial or the right not to be killed by one’s own government.
Finally, in the midst of chaos, war, suffering, and pain let us not only pray but continue to act to bring about the reality that the prophet Isaiah envisioned where: “They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation shall not lift up sword against nation. Neither shall they learn war any more” Isaiah 2:4. We owe it to ourselves and to future generations to actually “be the kind of change that we are seeking.”
Cantor Mark Perman is cantor of Farmington Valley Jewish Congregation-Emek Shalom in Simsbury, Conn. This op-ed reflects his own opinion and not necessarily that of his congregation.