Positivity Beats Hate: My Conversation with a Missoula Rabbi
Positivity isn't just an attitude, it's a skill. For me, that skill has been put to the test by everything I've heard and read lately from Ye, formerly known as Kanye West. Antisemitism is never acceptable, but it's even more troubling coming from a person with such a high profile. For years I was somewhat a fan of Ye's and I really didn't see this coming. That's part of why I find this situation shocking. I've had trouble making sense of it, so I spoke to Rabbi Chezky Vogel of Chabad Jewish Center of Missoula.
I asked for his thoughts on what he's seen from Ye, and I found Rabbi Vogel's response inspiring.
"I'm not an expert on antisemitism... I'm an expert on Judaism. And how we choose as Jews, and as a wider community in general, to respond to hate. That's up to us. I would encourage people, Jews when it comes to antisemitism, and in general all of us... when we see hatred and bigotry the response has to be intensifying our identity. Not shrinking, but actually intensifying the pride we have in our identity and our diversity. That really is the best response to show that hatred and bigotry does not have a place by us.
For people who want to speak out on social media when they see antisemitism, Rabbi Vogel recommends not merely disavowing the statements but to also make a positive statement such as, "I support the Jewish community." The same advice applies to people who are speaking out against hatred of any community.
The way we fight hate is not with hate. You don't chase away darkness with broomsticks, you do it with light, with positivity... A little bit of light dispels a lot of darkness.
Thank you very much to Rabbi Vogel for taking the time to speak to me, this was a conversation I won't forget.