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Let's Recognize the Spark of Humanity

Friday, 5 June, 2020 - 2:16 pm

Canva - Racial Ethnic Social Issue.jpgIn 1991 a young six-year-old child by the name of Gavin Cato was killed in a terrible and tragic car accident in Crown Heights, Brooklyn and the resulting tension after his death, led to three days of race riots.

When things finally calmed down and the community began to heal, David Dinkins the then mayor of New York, came to visit my late mentor the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Schnersohn to discuss the situation and ask for a blessing. In the conversation as they spoke about the two sides uniting and coming together, the Rebbe pointed out that in truth it is not really two sides, rather in the Rebbe’s words “everyone is on one side and part of one community coming together under the leadership of the city”.

The Rebbe taught that the core of every human being is one and same, and the spark of G-dliness and humanity is what resides at the heart of every human and what unites us all together. For me the Rebbe didn’t simply talk the talk, the Rebbe walked the walk, as he treated every human being with dignity, met people from every faith and from every race and received all of them with respect and honor. Perhaps even more importantly the Rebbe advocated working together to help and better the lives of all communities through education, values and through acknowledging the spark of G-d and humanity that make up the core of every human being.

The images of the last few days have highlighted a very painful wound in America and the anger, frustration and scenes of chaos are all causing tremendous distress. The video of the final moments and cries for help of George Floyd as he died under the knee of a police officer, have seared the conscience of the American people and have ignited a very important conversation about race relations and specifically mistreatment of people of color.

“In the image of G-d he created him” is not simply a poetic description in the book of Genesis, rather it is a calling to each of us to recognize the spark of humanity and divinity that is at the core of every human being. These words are a clarion call to action for how we are to understand our own responsibilities as we acknowledge the tremendous unique and irreplaceable potential with which each one of us have been endowed.

Perhaps if we can all realize that our differences are not what we perceive they are, rather we are all humans endowed with the image of G-d and need to live up to that, then we can learn to focus on what binds us together as humanity and collectively make that oneness be the reality of our communities and society.

There is no doubt that the recent incidents have been a painful wake up call for what needs improving and fixing. The message of the hundreds of thousands of sincere protesters is real and needs to be heard and the pain of all those who suffered unjust carnage from the looting and rioting is a total breakdown of the society we all envision.

Change always begins at home, and perhaps in light of these events, each person, family and community should take the time to do an honest evaluation and discussion of where we can be doing better in recognizing that spark of G-dliness and humanity that is at the core of every human being.

Perhaps we need to ask ourselves could we be doing a little more to connect with those we interact with, with simple things that pay recognition to them all being our full equals and having that same spark of humanity as ourselves. A little extra hello, smile and personal interest go a huge way in building bridges, creating meaningful relationships and mutually validating this core and essential truth. This can be done with people we may know from our own community, those we work with, people our children go to school with, store workers or so many others and in so many ways.

Doing so will empower all of us to treat others with the same dignity, care and compassion that we would want to be treated with and make sure that racism, bigotry and prejudice are not a part of how we treat anyone.

Lastly as we move forward, let us remember the message of the conversation between Mayor David Dinkins and Rabbi Schnersohn, “we are truly all on one side and a part of one community”. By working together and refining our attitudes, we can transform the world into a place where racism and prejudice won’t have a place, because we will have learned to think deeper about appreciating and respecting one another.

With blessings and prayers for a more healthy world in every sense.

Good Shabbos & Shabbat Shalom


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