The United States got a chance to view a solar eclipse on August 21, 2017. Most of the country only saw a partial eclipse, with a narrow band of the country from South Carolina to Oregon witnessed the solar eclipse in its totality.
The Solar Eclipse
The “totality” was a remarkable site to behold. The sun was completely eclipsed by the moon passing before it, rendering the sun as a dark orb, and bringing darkness to that section of the country during daylight hours. The phenomena was short – just three minutes – but its impact on those in its path was amazing.
One would imagine that witnessing such a dramatic event would be easy to see and capture, but it wasn’t. Due to the overall brightness of the sun, one needed to look at the sun through special glasses to capture the sight.
For those not in the path of totality and without the special glasses, the hours from the very beginning of the eclipse through the end passed without incident. There was no perceptible difference in sunlight during the hot summer day.
August 2017 also brought to light the scourge of anti-Semitism in the United States.
A protest march in Charlottesville, VA about the removal of Confederate war heroes revealed ugly shouts against Jews by White supremacists. Their hatred was laid bare and much of the nation was in shock at the vile display of hate.
However, many advocacy and educational groups – including First.One.Through – have been writing about the rampant anti-Semitism for years. They have repeatedly shown the bias of the media to downplay anti-Semitism, whether in the United States or in Europe; the sad slanders in governmental bodies such as the United Nations and the Obama Administration.
But despite the many articles and videos about prevalent Jew-hatred, people have been dismissive. Much like the millions of people in the United States that did not wear special eclipse glasses, they could not see the hatred that was happening all around them.
Anti-Semitism – like solar eclipses – has always been present. Sometimes the blatant anti-Semitism – a “totality,” to borrow eclipse terminology – is so overwhelming that the ground becomes darkened as it was in Charlottesville, VA. The hatred was actually visible, and people were astonished.
But such moments come and go. The solar eclipse moves on, to appear in another part of the world, in part and in totality. We will read about the totality events far from our shores. We will be unmoved.
People trying to highlight the incessant anti-Semitism in the world may benefit from a moment of pause, even in the shadow of the great solar eclipse of 2017. One cannot convince people to view the world through the special glasses which highlight the anti-Semitism. It may be there, but only those people that go through the effort of donning the glasses or happen to be in the path of totality will recognize it.
It may be that the best form of education is nature. Educating people to not look at the sun as it will damage their eyes benefits from being both simple and selfish. Perhaps the best message for combating anti-Semitism would be something similar, like avoiding hating anyone. The blanket message covers sunny and cloudy days, those areas with and without eclipses, hating Jews, Muslims, gays or anyone else.
Totalities are moments in time to acknowledge prevailing realities – not just the unusual moment itself. The moon always circles the earth and anti-Semitism is all around us. Let’s acknowledge the moment and absorb important lessons for a healthy life and society.
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