An Open Letter from Florida Rabbi Mark Rosenberg — Where Have the Brave Soldiers Gone?

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Rabbi Teller was once traveling with 16 of his 18 offspring.   While changing planes in Frankfurt, Teller noticed a woman gasping. “Are all of these your children?” the woman asked. “From one wife?”

“Yes, God has blessed me with all these children,” the rabbi replied.
the woman sniffed.  “How many more children do you want to have?” Rabbi Teller paused and said, “About 6 million,”

I read with dismay the story of an invitation given to our Florida Governor, Ron DeSantis, to speak at an event discussing the challenges facing the Jewish people and Israel.  The event will be hosted by Tikvah, a Jewish educational and cultural institution, teaching Jews about Jewish history and civilization.

The choice of Governor DeSantis seems more than apropos considering his State’s overwhelming investment in Jewish growth and prosperity. Florida’s Jewish schools and institutions are expanding and prospering significantly, in line with Florida’s booming economy and lifestyle.  Florida currently has the third largest Jewish population in the country, for good reason.

Tikvah correctly suggested that Gov. DeSantis’s contribution to the growth and vitality of Jewish life in his State made this invite a good match. The venue of the event at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York City also seemed a perfect match. Tikvah had hosted numerous conferences at the museum, with speakers from various backgrounds.

In steps “Jewish intolerance”.   Yes, the same Jews who constantly face intolerance from those who seek to harm them and who are castigated by silly charges of being unfair to their enemies and unaccepting of boycotts, seem to have no problem doing the same to their own. As per an article posted by the WSJ on May 5th. The staff (time to look for good help) at the Museum of Jewish Heritage see the views of Governor DeSantis as not being aligned with the museum’s values of inclusivity and have retracted their invitation to Governor DeSantis to speak there.

The irony is blaring and shameful.   Jews have always fought to be protected and respected by the governments they reside under. When a governor like Ron DeSantis comes around and gives wholehearted and unabashed support to the Jewish communities of Florida, to the Jewish communities worldwide and an outspoken supporter to the state of Israel. One might expect that a Jewish Museum dedicated to preserving Jewish Heritage would praise and welcome him with an open heart.

There are common ground issues and events that bring people together.  The tragedy at Surfside last year was one such event that displayed true sympathy with those who were suffering.   Governor DeSantis had a State to run, and yet, there he was every day to stand shoulder to shoulder with the grieving families.   He saw a need to comfort others, which took precedent to anything else.

Governor DeSantis is an anomaly.  He is loved by Floridians because he celebrates true freedom for all.  He has always stood with the Jewish community and when Jews celebrate, he celebrates with them.  He mourns when Jews mourn, and he hurts when Jews hurt.  He is a man of strong conviction to morality and to the rights of all who reside in Florida and throughout the country.  His strength is his determination to not fall in line with those who claim to own a moral authority, He is a leader, not a follower.

What would prompt the “staff” at the Jewish Museum to have a problem with a governor doing so much for Jews?   Are they scared of being called “intolerant” by those who are themselves intolerant, what happened to standing arm in arm with one’s brothers and sisters, especially on a day of remembrance to the atrocities done to those brothers and sisters? Where have the brave soldiers gone?

Forgiveness is the greatest virtue.  It is a GODLY virtue, one becoming the Jewish nation.   This is a time where the brave makes the headlines and those who stand with true moral conviction are the ones who are the real heroes.  I hope that the Museum has the courage to stand up to peer pressure and say, “we made a mistake”, and will be re-inviting DeSantis to speak.  It would be a statement to the world that Jewish people stand for equality and for each other.

An unprecedented number of Rabbis throughout Florida walk proudly with Governor DeSantis and were shocked and pained at the disinvite from the Jewish Museum to have our governor speak at this event. Never too late to correct this mistake by proudly and loudly invite the world to come hear Governor DeSantis on June 12th at the museum.

With hope for a brighter future.

Rabbi Mark Rosenberg

Miami, Florida.