Sherri Gragg

Juggler of words and children…collector of pottery shards

Hate Crime Charges in the Burning of Jewish Scrolls

A Brooklyn man has been charged with hate crimes in relation to the burning of 12 Jewish Scrolls in Brooklyn, New York. The scrolls were in Mezuzahs which were mounted outside of the doors of homes in an apartment building in Brooklyn.

Many Jewish people hang Mezuzahs (Hebrew for “doorpost”) by their front doors in obedience to God’s command found in Deuteronomy 6:4-9.mezuzah-12049

Deuteronomy 6:4-9

New International Version (NIV)

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[a] Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” http://www.biblegateway.com

I have a few regrets from my trip to Israel.  I regret running out of time before I saw the cisterns in Masada.  I wish I had been able to climb to the top of Gamla as well.  I also regret not purchasing a mezuzah in Israel when I had the chance.  If I had read Alfred Edersheim’s thoughts on mezuzahs before my trip, I most certainly would have made a different decision.

“Enclosed in a shining metal case, and affixed to the door-post, the child, when carried in the arms, would naturally put out its hand to it; the more so, that it would see the father and all others, on going out or in, reverently touch he case, and afterwards kiss the finger, speaking at the same time a benediction.  For, from early times, the presence of the “Mesusah” was connected with the Divine protection, this verse being especially applied to it:  ‘The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.'” (Psalm 121:8)

Mezuzahs are symbolic of God’s Divine protection.  They are reminders to remain ever set apart for His purposes, and they introduce a knowledge of the Holy to little ones from their infancy.

When this man in Brooklyn set fire to these sacred objects on the doorposts of Jewish homes, he was most certainly committing a hate crime. There is a touch of irony in the name of the man accused with the crime.  His surname, Ubiles, is certainly Latino.  His first name is Latino as well, as far as modern history is concerned at least.  The roots of the name though are much older, stretching back into ancient history to the first-born son of a Middle Eastern man would become the father of a great nation.  This patriarch’s name was Jacob.  Mr. Ubiles, the man charged with burning sacred Jewish scrolls, borrows his name from Jacob’s baby boy, the first son of twelve- Reuben.

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