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Two White Robes: Yom Kippur and the Stormfront Summit

Two White Robes: Yom Kippur and the Stormfront Summit

Their robe symbolizes a fixation with skin color, ours symbolizes the purity of the soul.


This weekend, millions of Jews around the world will gather in their synagogues for Yom Kippur, the holiest day on the year. This day, observed through fasting and prayer, comes with a slew of customs of varying significance.

One of those customs is to wear white. Many married men have the custom to wear a white robe called a kittel. This robe reminds us of our mortality; when one passes away he is buried in plain white burial shrouds. On this holiest of days, it also represents the angelic purity we can achieve.

This Yom Kippur a very different group will be gathering and donning white robes as well. Stormfront, the white nationalist neo-Nazi web forum, will be holding their annual summit to promulgate their twisted world view.

The Stormfront Summit, we are told, will be held in the “Jew-free” Eastern Tennessee mountains. One white supremacist blog tells us that the summit will foster “fellowship and build camaraderie with other White Nationalists. Rest assured that no Jews [or] race mixers...will be present at this event.”

The differences between our white robes and theirs couldn't be more stark. Their robes symbolize a fixation with the physical, with skin color, with the body. The kittel communicates the exact opposite; it tells us to recognize our mortality and lead a trascendent life.

On Yom Kippur, as the racists and anti-Semites in Eastern Tennessee gather to preach bigotry and divisiveness and the inherent separateness of people, masses of Jews around the globe will be gathered, dressed in white, asking God to make it possible for all of mankind to be “bound together as one unit to perform Your will” (Yom Kippur Machzor).

They will emerge from their convocation with renewed focus on promoting the notion that it is only the prosperity and safety of one demographic grouping that matters. In contrast, we emerge from Yom Kippur and immediately prepare for Sukkot, a holiday which was celebrated in ancient times by bringing 70 sacrifices as an appeal to God to provide bounty to all 70 of the world’s nations, not only for the Jewish people.

Our white robes represent the purity of the soul, not of pigmentation.

Their white robes represent fixation on “the color of their skin”, while ours is a bold statement that what really counts is “the content of their character”.

Because in Judaism, identity is more than just skin deep.

September 25, 2017

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Visitor Comments: 1

(1) Mike, September 28, 2017 1:03 AM

Lets make a deal

I'll make the clan a deal. They can have east Tennessee and we will take New York, New Jersey, California, Florida, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Vermont, Arizona, and the other civilized sections of the country. Not a bad deal. Sorry Tennessee, you are a beautiful state, but the nazis have already claimed you. Happy New Year Rabbi Tendler.

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