Colors: Green Color

The very opening line uttered by the chazan on Kol Nidrei concludes with: “We give way to pray with the transgressors among us.” This is based on the Gemara (K’risus 6b): “Any fast that does not include the transgressors of Israel is not a fast.” The meaning of this is that the Jewish people are the sum of its parts. To be whole, we cannot discount any of our parts, even if they do not match the rest of the body, unseemly as they may be.

I did not think I would be able to write this week. Like most Jews, my head has been spinning since the news of the atrocities in Israel broke out on Sh’mini Atzeres. “If only someone would turn my head to water and my eyes to a spring of tears, then I would cry all day and all night for the slain of my daughter’s people” (Yirmiyahu 8:23).

In the early 1970s, a major controversy rocked the entire Queens community. Through a federally sponsored program known as “Scatter Site Housing,” the government decided that the best way to advance the poor is to build public housing for them in middle-class communities. The first site they chose was Forest Hills, a major Jewish community at the time. A 12-story monstrosity was proposed right at the edge of the community where the Grand Central Parkway and the Long Island Expressway meet.

The world reacted with universal condemnation to the widely reported, openly anti-Semitic address delivered by Palestinian Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to a recent Fatah conference. He so blatantly said the quiet part out loud that a series of anti-Israel individuals and organizations, from Americans for Peace Now to James Zogby, rushed to distance themselves from Abbas with strident condemnations of their own.