25 Year Later: Hashem and the Crown Heights Riots by Tamar Stone
Last Friday, during our weekly Skype call, my mom mentioned Thanksgiving to my daughter. Afterwards, my daughter asked me what Thanksgiving is, and I told her it’s a really big holiday which means “Hodaya,” thanking Hashem.
So, in honor of Thanksgiving, I wanted to share a letter of heartfelt Hodaya which I received 2 years ago this week from JewishMOM.com reader, Tamar Stone. This letter helped me a great deal during a very dark period of my life, after an indicted Nachlaot child molester was acquitted by a judge and set free. For many months I kept Tamar’s letter in my siddur and read it every day after davening. And now, two years later, as Tamar promised, I have been able to see with my own eyes how slowly, slowly, year by year, Hashem is bringing about perfect justice in Nachlaot as well. I am eagerly awaiting the day when, as Tamar promised me then, “you will eventually see a justice so perfect, it will take your breath away.”
This is what Tamar wrote:
Dear Chana Jenny,
I just read the news that one of the indicted Nachlaot pedophile suspects was acquitted. I assume that you know this and that the news has saddened you. Perhaps it even made you angry and resentful. And then it may have left you feeling frustrated and helpless. Wishing you had the power to enforce justice…
I can feel your anger and disappointment. I can hear your cry– “WHY???” I can hear your grumblings about the biased justice system. and I can remember how I felt in 1991, when I experienced the Crown Heights Pogrom. The feelings of anger and resentment are still raw. The feelings of betrayal are still there—-betrayed by the police, the politicians, the justice system, by my own neighbors, by the media, and most painfully, by the American Jews who blamed the victims for the violence and death.
It’s been 22 years, and I can put myself emotionally right back there if I just close my eyes. I suffered years of PTSD and the experience forever shattered my feelings of trust for the justice system, the police, non-Jews, the politicians, and any formal organization that claims to represent me. It ripped out any pacifist sentiments I ever had, eliminated any feelings of compassion for “the enemy” (in whatever form that takes, in all situations).
That Pogrom erased that all.
And what have I learned over the past 22 years? I have learned that Hashem is good. He is the best player on the chess team, the best secret agent in the business, the greatest lawyer and judge, and the best weapon that will blow the opposition out of the water.
Even though I thought my fantasies of being the next Female Rambo shooting my Uzi at the scores of deserving enemies outside my door were pretty good, nothing beats Hashem. Time has allowed me to watch as Hashem rights the wrongs and implements justice. It is a justice so sweet, so exactly perfect that all my greatest imaginings are pale and puny beside it.
So, having experienced great injustice and pain, I think I can tell you that it will all pass. that you will have grown stronger because of it, and that you will eventually see a justice so perfect, it will take your breath away.