The 15th year yahrtzeit of Yitzchak Rabin
I remember when I was a new rabbi in Sacramento the news of the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin. I was giving a program when someone brought the word to me. I was shocked. Fear gripped me. My gut emotions compelled me to have a community wide service on the Saturday night of that week. The leadership of the Temple rallied together. We invited the Governor at that time which was Pete Wilson. I thought it was appropriate because he knew Rabin personally from his days serving in the U.S. Senate. We had over 1000 people attend that rally. It was an amazing night. We gave comfort to the community. We initiated the process of giving expression to the emotions and the fears and the solidarity that was desperately needed then.
Of course there were politics inside my temple. The ardent democrats were angered that I would invite Governor Wilson. All they could see was hatred for him due to his sponsorship of Proposition 187 which was the anti-immigration bill. Even back then I experienced how deadly and destructive partisan politics were in the face of a catastrophic event like Rabin’s assassination. How ironic that our own people could not get beyond their own hatred of Wilson’s politics forgetting he was the governor of the state of California.
There are times when we have to take the moral high ground and suspend our disagreements even with our own co-religionists or with other elected officials. That is what is missing in the society today. We are Balkanized in so many ways. We are consumed in our anger and unable to rediscover the value of compromise and mutual respect. I saw an irony in my discussions with these shortsighted congregants given that Prime Minister Rabin was able to transcend his own feelings towards his adversaries in order to see the possibilities of peace.
Remember it was fanatical Jew who murdered Rabin. How many times do we have to learn that no matter how right we know we are in our politics, we cannot lose sight of the need to fashion a culture that enables fruitful and passionate dialogue without demonizing the other side.