The other face of violence

Congregation Beit Simchat Torah

When I expressed interest in attending a Jewish service, a kind friend brought me to the Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, which he has visited a number of times, not for worship (he is an atheist), but for the beauty of the Hebrew language sung and chanted, the sounds of his childhood. Founded in 1973 by twelve gay Jewish men, CBST describes itself as the world’s largest LGBT synagogue. There I was last Friday, wearing my rainbow-colored kippah, tapping my foot to the catchy music, and trying hard to follow the service in English. I must admit that in the midst of the worshipful atmosphere, a fleeting thought went through my mind: what if a gunman should burst in and shoot up the sanctuary?

The rising tide of anti-semitism and homophobia in America made such a thought not altogether fanciful. The Poway shooting, which took place less than a week ago, must have been on the minds of the CBST congregation. The attack left one woman dead, the rabbi wounded, and a man and a girl with shrapnel wounds. It happened exactly 6 months after the attack on the Tree of Life Congregation Synagogue in Pittsburgh, which killed 11 people. The epidemic of gun violence is not restricted to America. Part of the shock of the Christchurch mosque shootings was that it happened in quiet New Zealand.

Strong legislative action must be taken to restrict gun ownership, which happened in New Zealand, but not, unhappily, in America. In addition to using the law, however, there must be deep and lasting cultural change. The newish diagnosis of “toxic masculinity” used in psychology and gender studies seems particularly relevant to mass shootings, almost invariably carried out by men. The term refers to the normalization of aggression and violence in male development. It is used too often, to my mind, as a stick to beat down men. Anthropologist Samuel Veissière argues in this interesting article, by taking into account both biology and culture, for bringing up boys to be not only caring, but also strong.

We need strong men and women to fight for change. The other face of aggression is not meekness but valor. Marveling at the success of Apollo 8 in reaching and orbiting the moon in 1968, Jewish-Italian author Primo Levi wrote of the “cheerful strength” that is in us to carry through high enterprises. The survivor of Auschwitz concluded his essay with a rousing call: “This moon flight is an initial test; other exploits await us, deeds of courage and ingenuity, much more demanding because necessary to our very survival: exploits against hunger, poverty, and suffering. These too must be felt as challenges to our valor, and these too, since they can, must be carried through.”

 

Jee Leong Koh

 

 

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7 Responses to “The other face of violence”

  • Asd:

    What talking you… you American or new zealander ????

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  • LIONS:

    Yes,we need sgs of VALOR,not mere $cholars.
    Sgs like Dr Chee,Prof Paul n Dr Ang from SDP,DR TAN N HIS FORMER PAP frens,Lim Tean,Brad n others;these men of VALIR can bring us to a higher level from the doldrums we have been forec into.

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  • Gunmen bursting into homes:

    What people nearer home fear is when a group of well-organized gunmen burst into your homes, even though you are just talking about eggs and shoes.

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  • patriot of TUMASIK:

    My Fren, you are talking about a totally Different World…ours is but a Nose Shit or Pisai why compare???…

    it is like the Sham did when he compared the violence of Indonesia and other 3rd world countries when he enacted the Rule of Suppression similar to the Rule of STOP @ 2 by a Bastard now DEAD!!!

    Pure & Simple make Rules to suit themselves…

    USA is a Nation with a History of Violence from the WORD “go West” …and having a gun is self-protection of Family and Land Stolen or Staked or bought from the Native Indians thus the Indian war of the plains…to the Carpetbaggers after the Civil war NOT forgetting the RacistWays started by The DEMoncrats lasting right up till Today until an OUTSIDER who does Not Smoke or Drin but Love beautiful “THINGS” especially women but with his own Billions became POTUS…

    Compare that to this NoseShit where a bast**d -coward & trait** usurp power through Backstabbing to Create a Racist Dynasty where Others Including the Native Malay is NOT ready to be PM but the self Declared ARISTOcraps from a FamiLEE of Lies…Built a FORTUNE of Billions while in Power more through LEEgal Corruption & Cronyism

    How is dat for The TRUTH and not the BS(constipated) Hard Truth

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  • Regime change is the solution.:

    “We need strong men and women to fight for change.” Right. Fight for regime change. Kick ass.

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  • On not being in Fake:

    “We cannot avoid using power, cannot escape the compulsion to afflict the world, so let us, cautious in diction and mighty in contradiction, love powerfully … There are three principles in a man’s being and his life: The principle of thought, the principle of speech, and the principle of action. The origin of all conflict between me and my fellow-men is that I do not say what I mean and I don’t do what I say.”

    (Martin Buber,Jewish Existentialism)

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  • nihon:

    why talk about lgbtq again?

    lgbtqs and gun violence are separate issues.

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