“Where books are burned in the end people will burn.” – Heinrich Heine
Rosh HaShanah is just a few hours away. However, I want to take a moment to raise an important issue.
As many of you are already aware, a church in Gainesville, FL has created quite a stir around the world with their plan to hold a Koran burning on Saturday, September 11th. World leaders, politicians, spiritual leaders, and prominent figures have condemned the plans of the small church, and have pleaded with them to reconsider.
I am adding my voice to the cacophony of voices. Why you might ask?
On May 10th, 1933 the Nazis burned 25,000 books – including those written by Jewish poet Heinrich Heine, who had predicted in 1820 that “where books are burned in the end people will burn.” Eight years after the Nazis began burning books, they began burning people.
During the middle ages, the church burned copies of the Talmud in various cities across Europe, claiming that the Talmud mocked and denied Jesus and led Jews away from faith in him. This too resulted in thousands of Jews across Europe being killed, tortured, raped, and beaten.
The reason why I, as a rabbi, am speaking up is because the issue with the upcoming Koran burning in Florida is not really about the Koran. It is also not really about Islam. Rather, it is about human dignity and decency.
History has time and again reinforced Heinrich Heine’s observation that those who begin by burning books will end by burning people. Intolerance of thought (whether one agrees with it or not) is always the beginning to greater oppression. When one can justify a voice not being worth hearing, it is only a small step to saying not just the voice, but the person is not worth hearing, let alone living.
As a Jew, and as a follower of the Jewish Messiah, I must also speak out against the fear and hatred of the Other that truly lies at the root of this book burning. It is totally acceptable to differ on opinions. In America, we also have the freedom to choose (or not to choose) our own faith. You can agree or disagree with the content of the Koran, or specific interpretations of Islam. But when you begin the path of destruction, you begin to fall down a very slippery slope.
Tonight we Jews around the world begin a period of introspection and repentance. As we seek G-d to have mercy upon us, we must first begin by extending mercy to those around us. Particularly with our “enemy.”
Rev. Terry Jones … Please rethink this foolishness.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged community
, Current Events
. Bookmark the permalink