The Rabbis teach that senseless hatred, sinat chinam, destroyed the Temple in Jerusalem. Beyond the physical destruction, the Jewish community needed to pivot and create what would become modern Judaism, a Judaism spread around every corner of the world.
Today, hours before the fast of Tisha B’Av, I wish to share a story of ahavat chinam, a simple story of love bringing the Abrahamic faiths together.
Enes Kanter, 11-year NBA star, visited the land of Israel in the past week. He placed a note at the Kotel and he toured holy Muslim sites. He led basketball clinics for Israeli and Arab children with Jewish superstar Tamir Goodman. He brought together Jews, Muslims, and Christians in the holy city of Jerusalem by holding an orange ball in his hands. His last stop was Yad Vashem, where he expressed the importance of Holocaust education in all faith communities around the world.
This upcoming Wednesday, August 10, one of Enes Kanter’s first stops will be at Sinai Temple here in Los Angeles. He will do the same he did in Israel. He will lead a clinic with Jewish, Christian, and Muslim children in Los Angeles. He will teach the lessons of religious respect and dialogue. He will make a difference in the lives of young people who will grow up with the idea that meeting people not like them is important.
Tomorrow evening, we will sit on the floor by candlelight and read the book of Lamentations. We will hear the prophet Jeremiah’s call–how solitary the city of Jerusalem sits, destroyed by senseless hatred.
Thousands of years later, so many communities and societies continue to be led down this path, one of spiritual destruction.
But this year, we find a story of love: Enes Kanter, a professional athlete, who puts his reputation and career on the line for the greater cause of bringing people together.
At Sinai Temple, Enes will host 120 kids from the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim communities. We will respect each other’s theological differences because our uniqueness is what will make us stronger together.
As Jeremiah writes at the conclusion of Lamentations–chadesh yameinu k-kedem, “renew our lives as in days of old.”
The moment that will happen at Sinai Temple is well beyond a ball and a net. Rather, this moment is about repairing the world, seeing the other, beginning relationships that may not have existed yesterday. For when this occurs, we will be able to stand up the day after Tisha B’Av, remember what led us down the wrong path, and recognize the path that will lead us to a brighter future.