While being interviewed on Morning Joe Monday morning, Trump was told that France will be closing some Mosques where there is considered to be extremism. He was asked if he would do the same here in the United States.

His response is very interesting and worthy of discussion.

Trump said:

Well, I would hate to do it but it’s something you’re going to have to strongly consider. Some of the absolute hatred is coming from these areas…The hatred is incredible. It’s embedded. The hatred is beyond belief. The hatred is greater than anybody understands.”

Watch the video here:

 

Using Kol Nidrei as an Example of why this is a bad idea.

This is a bad idea. And let me use Jewish High Holy Day Prayer Kol Nidrei, traditionally seen as one of the most important prayers of the year, as the example.

The reason Trump’s suggestion and Kol Nidrei are linked goes back to the days of the Spanish Inquisition, when the conversos (Jews who chose to convert to Christianity rather than face expulsion or death, but remained faithful to Judaism at heart, and to some degree in observance too) would gather on Yom Kippur eve in their hideout synagogues.

The popular version connects the wording of the prayer with the religious dilemma facing medieval Spanish Jews. In 15th-century Spain, at the hight of the infamous Inquisition, the Roman Catholic Church embarked on a determined hunt to seek out and punish all non-practicing Christians. For the majority of Jews their “conversion” was in name only as they still found creative ways to practice Judaism in the privacy of their own dwellings. These Jews came to be known as “marranos” and became one of the foci of the Church’s inquistory offensive.

The Kol Nidre prayer was created in response to these Jews’ desire to nullify their vows of conversion. We can see the potential validity of this historical claim in a literal translation of Kol Nidre:

“All vows and oaths we take, all promises and obligations we made to God between this Yom Kippur and the last we hereby publicly retract in the event that we should forget them, and hereby declare our intention to be absolved of them.”

Closing Mosques will not accomplish the goal.

Trump, and all Religious Conservatives, calling for calling for the Mosques should learn from history.  The forced conversion of Jews in the 15th Century did not wipe out the Jews.  And the forced closing of Mosques in the 21st Century will not wipe out terroristic Muslims.

Despite what Religious Conservatives might believe religious beliefs do not live in “Brick and Mortar.”  Religious beliefs life in people’s hearts.

Making any suggestion that closing Mosques will change the situation at all so out of touch with reality is that people, particularly today in the 21st Century, do not need “brick and mortar” buildings to connect and organize.

What Kol Nidre teaches us is that if people, even in the 15th Century, could find a way to connect, it doesn’t take a lot of brilliance to realize how ineffective closing Mosques in the 21st Century.

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