Plain Meanings - Complex Texts

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Rabbi Yehiel Poupko is bridging the gap between old Jewish books and contemporary realities.

Plain Meanings - Complex Texts

Kansas murders reveal an uplifting truth about America

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It is bitterly ironic that the murderer in Overland Park, Kansas unwittingly revealed an excellent truth about America, and the place of Jews and other minorities in these great United States.

Jews came here to flee oppression in several continents. America welcomed them, as it has welcomed every immigrant group.  It asked of the Jews the same thing it asked of every immigrant: Embrace our democratic principles, work hard, and participate in building a decent civic society maintained by the institutions of our democracy.  Like all other immigrant groups, Jews did exactly that.

Like other immigrant groups Jews established many institutions to foster their communal development, to transmit their traditions, and to maintain group identification and solidarity.  These institutions, like the institutions of other national, ethnic, and religious groups in our society contribute to the development of a decent civic order.  Among such institutions are synagogues, Jewish community centers, homes for the elderly and the frail, hospitals, schools, and all manner of places where Jews, like their fellow immigrants, gather. 

It must have enraged the Kansas murderer to learn that he killed non-Jews, that non-Jewish people feel utterly comfortable and normal making use of all kinds of Jewish communal buildings and services, such as Jewish community centers and Jewish old-age homes.  The Kansas murderer could not imagine that Christians would feel so comfortable, at ease, and so normal in Jewish community buildings.  He assumed that whoever is in a Jewish building has got to be Jewish.  In other places in the world, let's say Egypt, or Iraq, or Pakistan, people who want to harm Christians know exactly where to go.  They go to a church.  The only people who go to churches in countries like that are Christians.  In other places in the world, people who want to attack Jews know exactly where to go.  In Istanbul they go to the synagogue.  In Buenos Aires they go to the Jewish community center.  In Paris they go to the synagogue. 

In the United States that's no longer true.  All kinds of people are present in all kinds of places.  So many types of non-Jews make use of so many Jewish institutions.  They are indistinguishable from their Jewish friends, neighbors, and citizens. 

This murderer, may he remain nameless, murdered three Christians because he thought they were Jews.  In committing this terrible crime he proved that America is a place unlike any other in the world. 

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