Experiencing a Hate Crime on Passover

Last night my family and I returned from a wonderful Passover Seder at the home of close friends.  Ten children, six of them teenagers,  participated in the Seder.

Last week, my friend, David, who hosted the Seder, and I got together to discuss preparations for the reading of the Haggadah, and we agreed that it would be both relevant and educational to prepare some questions for the teens that relate Passover to contemporary issues.

We emailed the children in advance and asked them to think about these questions before the Seder:

Passover celebrates the end of Jewish slavery in Egypt; can you think of an example of slavery that exists in the world today?

The seder is filled with rituals (cups of wine, parsley, breaking matzoh); are these rituals relevant in your life today?

During the seder, we remember the ten plagues that fell upon the Egyptians; do we face any plagues in our life today?

What does Hillel mean when he says: “Do not unto others what you would hate them to do unto you.  That is the whole Torah.”

We leave the door open for Elijah as a sign that nobody is shut off from his fellow man; what else can you do tomorrow to demonstrate the same thing?

When I returned home I turned on the local news and saw a screen shot of our synagogue, Temple Emanu El, where I served on the board for six years, and listened to a news reporter explain that a blue swastika, the universally recognized symbol of anti-semitism, had been painted on the wall of Temple Emanu El yesterday at 11AM.  For news coverage of the incident, please click here.

In a statement Monday, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom said, "San Francisco’s largest Jewish temple was defaced with a symbol of hatred on the eve of Passover. San Francisco is known as a city that embraces people of all faiths. We strongly condemn this act of hatred and intolerance."

It is a hard slap in the face to religious tolerance to see this happen in our local community, and I am very distressed by it.  Could this be the thoughtless act of a young person? If so, I wonder what questions are being asked at that family’s dinner table?

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