A Boger of Habonim Dror, Benjy Goldstone, went to the vigil for the victims of the Pittsburgh Massacre on the 31st of October 2018. You can read below his inspiring speech.
Hello, my name is Benjy. I’m a first-year student at Nottingham Trent University and am a member of the Jewish Youth Movement Habonim Dror.
Tonight is Halloween. I have my decorations up, costume ready and ticket for the club booked. My flatmates have the same. But I’m stood here in the bitter cold whilst they eat their dinner and start to think about pre-drinks. Why the separation? Why am I not with them? Is it because I like a brisk evening stroll? Or maybe because I’m a Forest fan and want to stand next to Brian Clough? No. It’s because I’m a Jew. It’s because I am responsible over the future of my people and the world that I live in. It’s because we, as Jews, have been called into action.
Joyce Fienberg, Richard Gottfried, Rose Mallinger, Jerry Rabinowitz, Cecil Rosenthal, David Rosenthal, Bernice Simon, Sylvan Simon, Daniel Stein, Melvin Max, Irving Younger. These are the 11 Jewish people that were murdered in Pittsburgh at the Etz Chaim synagogue for the crime of being Jewish. They committed the crimes of not being an anti-Semitic, far-right, gun-wielding, white supremacist. These are the names that we must celebrate and must never forget. But memory is just one aspect of action to take in response to this attack. Rebellion is the other. Rebellion, more than anything, is the most fundamental part of being a Jew. Surviving discrimination for as long as we’ve existed? I call that rebellion. Returning to our homeland that we were exiled from thousands of years ago? I call that rebellion. Reviving the language of our peoplehood that was nearly lost due to forced assimilation? I call that rebellion. Teaching about Jewish values such as Tikkun Olam (repairing the world) and Shivyon Erech Ha’adam (the equality of human value)? I call that rebellion. Choosing to uprise against the Nazi regime in the ghettos across Poland in the Holocaust? I call that rebellion. Having youth movements such as Habonim Dror that proudly take the flame of our Jewish past, present and future and hold it up high? I call that rebellion!
Our rebellion from today onwards is to make our reality one that we can be proud of. It is to continue the incredible acceptance of refugees that was demonstrated to us by the Etz Chaim congregation. It is to make our voice, both under Trump’s administration in America and across the whole world, heard. It is to be allies to those who need our solidarity and I’d like to thank those non-Jews who have stood with us as partners over the last few days.
Now is not the time to sit back. It’s too late to be apathetic. Blood has been shed due to apathy.
Mordechai Anilelewicz, who was instrumental in partnering Dror in leading the Warsaw ghetto uprising had this to say in his last letter before he was killed by Nazis in the battle – ‘The most difficult struggle of all is the one within ourselves. Let us not get accustomed and adjusted to these conditions. The one who adjusts ceases to discriminate between good and evil. He becomes a slave in body and soul. Whatever may happen to you, remember always: don’t adjust! Revolt against the reality!’
We will not rest as our siblings are being massacred at a Shabbat service, for we are Jews! I am a Jew! And I will scream it at the top of my voice until the day I die!
May they rest in peace
Benjy Goldstone, HDUK Boger