Rabbi Sessler D’var Torah


We Are All Jews

History was made in Israel last week. Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial museum, decided to honor and declare for the first time an American soldier as a righteous gentile who risked his life to save Jews from the claws of the Nazis.

Master Sergeant Roddie Edmonds served our country in Europe during World War Two, when he and hundreds of soldiers under his command were taken captive by German-Nazi army.

Once the American soldiers were placed by the Nazis in the POW camp, a Nazi officer by the name of Siegmann asked all Jewish soldiers to step out of the line during roll call. Edmonds, the American commander, immediately ordered all the soldiers to all step forward, irrespective of their religious affiliation. When the Nazi official protested, and barked at Edmonds that it is impossible that all these American soldiers are Jewish (there were about a thousand captives present), Edmonds calmly responded by saying: “We are all Jews!”

The Nazi official reacted by placing his revolver on the forehead of Master Sergeant Edmonds. The American hero then responded by saying to the Nazi officer that he can go ahead and pull the trigger, but he will never betray his Jewish brothers in arms. Master sergeant Edmonds was loyal to his Jewish brothers in arms, and he was also loyal to his conscience. But there was another reason because of which he refused to disclose the identity of “his” Jewish soldiers. Edmonds understood, and he also said, that in a certain sense, “We are all Jews.” And he was right. In what sense are we all Jews? In the sense that antisemitism always starts with Jews, but in never ends with Jews.

The Nazis started with anti-Semitism, but ended in an attempt to annihilate of all civilized humanity. Similarly, in our time, radical Islamic terrorists began by focusing more on targeting Israelis and Jews, but are now targeting virtually every decent and innocent person on the planet.

Last month a devastating terrorist attack took place in Europe, in Paris. Two days ago, a terrorist attack by Islamic radicals took place right here, at home, in California, in San Bernardino. The woman terrorist in San Bernardino pledged allegiance to ISIS shortly before she and her husband perpetrated the attack. Yet again, the world begins to tragically learn the hard way that Islamic terrorism is not an Israeli problem or a Jewish problem, but a universal menace to humanity in its entirety. And that is what Master Sergeant Edmonds understood during World War Two, when he looked the Nazi officer straight in the eye and exclaimed: “We are all Jews”. The enemies of our people are also the enemies of all of civilized humanity, and the world is starting to re-learn that timeless and tragic lesson once more, again, in our time. May Hashem bless and protect all peace loving people throughout the world, and may all the forces of evil be speedily and utterly annihilated as a viable political and military force, Amen.

Shabbat Shalom,

Tal Sessler

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