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Pogrom In Pico Robertson: How Bad Does It Have To Get?

This past Sunday, a pogrom occurred in Los Angeles, when an Israeli real estate event scheduled at Adas Torah (a local synagogue in the Orthodox neighborhood of Pico Robertson) had Hamas supporters come to the streets trying to stop it. They were masked in keffiyehs and armed with bear spears. At least one Jewish man had his nose broken by the mob and several people were sprayed in close range. The group that organized the protest lied on social media, saying that the event was about selling illegal land. (That’s because Hamas supporters believe that the entire State of Israel, which was voted into existence by the United Nations in 1948, and the indigenous homeland to the Jewish people for 3000 years, is all stolen land.)

According to reports from Jews who were at the scene of the protest, there was not enough police presence and some of the LAPD sat back and watched as Jews got attacked. While there have been several press conferences organized in the days since the pogrom, with promises of bringing back anti-masking laws, requiring permits for protesting and ramping up police presence, Jews are feeling increasingly on edge, and rightly so.

For months, encampments on college campuses left Jewish students vulnerable and endangered. If these protests and riots start spreading around the country or world in great frequency and severity and are not met with a strong response, Jews are going to be in serious trouble.

I’m not the least bit surprised that there was a pogrom, as continuous blood libels are happening on every media platform at all hours of the day, and blood libels have always led to pogroms. While we are working day and night to move the needle in Hollywood for more authentic and proud Jewish depictions on television and film with our Hollywood Bureau, it is an uphill battle. And even if Jews are super organized and put out our best efforts, who are we kidding? We are greatly outnumbered in the world. The amount of enemies we have far, far exceeds our entire community.

Some people on a Jewish entertainment WhatsApp group that I’m on suggested we establish a Jewish Justice League. I noted that the original Justice League was made by a Jewish creator, just like all of the comic-book creators. They needed superheroes because Jews have been under attack for a very long time in the diaspora.

Thousands of years ago, during the Exodus from Egypt, God acted as our Superman with a Mighty Hand and an Outstretched Arm. During the Chanukah story, Hashem delivered the many into thr hands of the few. The strong into the hands of the weak.

In the days of old, our ancestors were able to merit Divine intervention when they turned towards God and returned to Jewish tradition. The Jewish community has certainly been more united and committed to our traditions than any time in my lifetime, since October 7. The question is, will it be enough? If things continue to get worse and worse, are we stirring the heavens with enough force?

I was thinking about Pascal’s wager recently. Pascal, a non-Jewish philosopher and mathematician, came up with a reason for people to choose faith. His argument was that if people choose faith and are right, then they have all of eternity in the afterlife to be rewarded. If they choose faith and they are wrong, they don’t lose much. If they don’t choose faith and they were wrong, they have the entirety of eternity to be punished. And if they don’t choose faith and they were right, maybe they got to have a little more fun on this earth.

I remember learning about this argument in school in my pre-observant and pre-believing days, and I thought it was annoying. I thought religious people were weird and pushy, and I didn’t feel like changing my lifestyle. Since becoming observant and believing, I have never wanted to be one of those pushy annoying religious people.

But–here’s what I am wondering. There’s a new wager on the table. We need not wait until the afterlife to see if we got things right. If Jews, en masse, turn to God and become more committed to Jewish traditions, perhaps we’d see a positive result in this world.

I asked an agnostic friend what he thought of this. He said things would have to get pretty bad for him to try that approach. Which concerned me. If things have to get pretty bad for Jews to be woken up, what if that is what will happen? What if God wants us to return and continues to raise the temperature until we respond?

I am not God and I cannot prove faith and I will not tell other people how to live or what to believe. But in terms of what’s happening in this world, I believe increased danger and alienation of Jews is only getting started. So I will work towards a worldly and spiritual response on my part and pray and advocate for my brethren to do the same.

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  • Avatar photo Susan Hirshorn says on June 28, 2024

    I have been calling for more Jewish Security Teams and for having Jews trained in self defense. Few Jewish communities in the Diaspora seem to be listening to me and others who call for this. They attack us because they know we won’t fight back. The Jewish Defense League was classified as a terrorist organization years ago. To heck with that. We need to reorganize under a different name and hit back…..hard…mafia style if necessary.

    Reply
    • Avatar photo Sage Lawrence says on June 28, 2024

      If there really is a Moshiach what is he waiting for? We Jews need to defend and protect ourselves. No one else will.

      Reply
      • Avatar photo Allison Josephs says on June 28, 2024

        Of course the Jewish community needs to use all of the weapons in our arsenal to defend and protect ourselves. My fear is that it still won’t be enough because we are greatly outnumbered. In terms of what moshiach is waiting for – us. According to Jewish tradition, we will merit to get out of exile when we unite with one another and return to God and to our traditions. We can’t obviously prove that this will work, but there’s not much to lose in trying.

        Reply
  • Avatar photo Billy2 says on June 28, 2024

    Pascal’s Wager only works if you do the impossible & follow every religion. If Christianity is correct & you live as a Jew you messed up. & Of course a Jew can’t follow both Judaism & Christianity at the same time. Nor can a Muslim also practice Hinduism as they contradict each other. If you’re dealing with general faith perhaps it works. But when you apply it to a certain religion exclusive of all other religions Pascal’s Wager doesn’t really work.

    Reply
    • Avatar photo Allison Josephs says on June 28, 2024

      The thing is that i’m not suggesting that we wait for feedback in the afterlife. This new scenario I’m discussing could mean a positive outcome in this world. Obviously, we don’t know what would happen until world Jewry made some big change like this. But as I noted, if things continue to get worse, there’s not too much of a downside in trying.

      Reply
  • Avatar photo Nathaniel Wyckoff says on June 30, 2024

    One problem is that, among Jews, there are many who refuse even to consider that Hashem wants us to return to Him and to His Torah. It’s not that they’re simply willing to wait until things get even worse; no matter how bad things get, they simply hate the idea that those “primitive,” “stupid,” “ignorant,” “intolerant” religious people who “contribute nothing” might be right. I personally know such people, who will blame massacres or pogroms on the political situation or on the “fact” that the Torah-observant are not doing “their fair share.”

    Among a sadly large number of Jews, there is a deeply ingrained mentality that rejects, a priori, any idea of embracing our traditions. You see it in those who use modern Israel as a replacement theology for Judaism. You see it in the hostility toward the Torah and toward those who study it. If you try to explain to them that the Torah is our lifeblood and they key to our survival, they respond with cruel invective about “religious coercion.” They almost seem psychologically incapable of viewing suffering as Hashem’s calling us to return to Him.

    So, here is a big question: How can we deliver that message, that suffering is meant to awaken us to return to G-d, to those who maintain a hostility toward the Torah and toward those who live by it?

    Reply
  • Avatar photo Rosemarie A. Walsh says on July 12, 2024

    Pico Robertson was yet another wake up call…no more looking away; no more saying ” that won’t happen here ” or ” they wouldn’t do that to us “. Some people don’t want to admit that evil exists in the world…they seem to want to think something along the lines of ” why can’t we all just get along? ” Evil is why. It must be acknowledged and dealt with. Everyone has a right to protect themselves. The time is now…no more looking away.

    Reply

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