To the Person Who Vandalized My Sister’s Picture

Last week, I hung up a sign in my synagogue, inviting the community to join us in honoring the memory of my sister Pesha Leah who passed away six years ago, on 21 Tevet, January 2nd, in a terrible car accident.

A few days later, I stopped by the synagogue to say hi to a friend and I saw that my sign was vandalized….

I don’t think that it was the rabbi. It was most likely just some random shmuck who felt that a picture of a woman should not be on a flyer….

Dear whoever did it,

I do not know who you are, and quite frankly, I don’t care.

I must ask, why did you do this? Did you think it is wrong for a woman to be on a poster? Perhaps you wanted to “save others” from getting aroused by a picture of a woman? WHY?!? Do you really believe it is appropriate to remove women’s faces from signs? How could you do such a thing and not worry about the consequences?

The flyer next to it had a clipart picture of a mother and daughter on it. Why didn’t you remove that one too? Most Chabad families have pictures of the Rebbetzins (rabbis’ wives) hanging in their homes. Should we rip those down too?

You did not just vandalize a flyer, you vandalized my heart. By ripping a picture of my sister off the bulletin board, you made a statement: This person does not belong in our community. But it is YOU who does not belong! My sister was a role model of Chabad. She taught me for my Bar Mitzvah, and she taught me what it means to be a chossid (Hasidic Jew) follower, of the Lubavitcher Rebbe. She taught me what it means to treat everyone as an equal. During her short years on this earth, she touched hundreds of souls all around the world, teaching them about what it truly means to be a Jew. Unfortunately, it seems she may have missed you….

By removing women’s pictures from things, you destroy an integral part of Judaism. Women make us into a nation because it is the mother that determines the child’s religion, not the father. It was the women who kept the Jewish people going throughout our exile in Egypt and it was the women who helped tip the tide in the war against the Greeks.

My sister lived by the verse, “Ashrainu, ma tov chelkeinu, u’ma naim goroleinu, u’ma yafa y’rushoteinu, We are fortunate, how goodly is our lot, and how pleasant is our fortune and how beautiful our heritage.” But our heritage comes from both genders. We are equally descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob AS WELL AS Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah… Don’t you think it is time to acknowledge that?

My sister also taught me that everyone has their own struggles in life, and no one truly knows what another person deals with. She taught me to always give others a second chance. But you cannot give someone a second chance without first forgiving them for their first chance. Forgiveness brings achdut, unity. So in honor of her yahrtzeit, I forgive you. I doubt you will ever see this letter, but if you do, I want you to know that I am hurt by your actions but I forgive you in the hope that you can learn from this incident. I know I have…

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