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Why Jews should care about Hawaiian Gardens
By Tamara Vered

So you are asking, why should you as a Jew care about what happens in Hawaiian Gardens? Here is a religious answer.

In the Talmud the Rabbis reminded us that all of Israel is responsible for each other, "Kol Yisrael Arevim Ze B'ze". (Volume Sanhedrin 27b) What that means is that the joy of other Jews is our joy and the pain of other Jews is our pain. On Yom Kippur when we announce our sins we also take on the sins of our brethren. We are not allowed to separate ourselves from the community and say that what another Jew does has no effect on us.

Because we are connected to one another we must also occasionally take the role of rebuking (hohe-ach tochiah et amiteha) someone in the community. One who causes the greater community to look at Jews with moral disgust is harming the community. In the case of Moskowitz, research shows that the contract made between Moskowitz and the redevelopment agency of Hawaiian Gardens allows a loophole in which the casino will not be required to donate funds to causes in the city of Hawaiian Gardens. The leaders of the city of Hawaiian Gardens were likely unaware of this loophole when they signed the document. They were also in desperate need of funds at the time and so they were less cautious than a community of people who can monetarily afford to wait before signing such an agreement.

It seems that Moskowitz and his attorney Weiner put a stumbling block in front of the "blind" community of Hawaiian Gardens. This action is in clear violation of the negative commandment in Leviticus 19:14. According to Eben Ezra, a biblical commentator, if we do not challenge injustices done by members of the Jewish community then it is as if we are accomplices to the crime and partners in the sin.

We need to show the our American government and more importantly Hashem our G-d that we are committed to social action and following the Torah's commandments for social responsibility.





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