One of Brooklyn Heights’s most-influential Jewish leaders fought back against an anti-Israel rally last Friday by doing what influential rabbis do in such situations: he bought cosmetics.
Rabbi Aaron Raskin of Congregation B’nai Avraham picked up some Ahava products at Ricky’s cosmetics shop on Montague Street just a few days after the store was picketed by protesters claiming that selling the West-Bank-made lotions supported Israel’s “illegal” occupation of the West Bank.
Raskin said he did his shopping simply to “make a stand” against the protesters. He also e-mailed 2,000 congregants and friends urging them to support Ricky’s and Israel by buying Ahava goods, which are made in an Israeli settlement in the West Bank.
“It is inescapable to see [the protest] as anything other than an expression of anti-Semitism,” Raskin said in the e-mail.
On Tuesday, he made his purchases and even blessed the staff of the hipster cosmetic store on the way out.
“Anyone who buys Israeli products, including Ricky’s, will receive many blessings,” he said.
Perhaps, but one of the original Ahava protesters disagreed with the rabbi’s take on the issue.
“We are definitely opposed to Ahava, and opposed to the Israeli settlements,” said Charlotte Phillips. “But to jump from that to calling us anti-Israel, and anti-Semitic is a gross misrepresentation.”
Raskin was unapologetic: “How come they don’t go out and protest China, Egypt, or Saudi Arabia, who are all violating human rights for tens of millions of people? Instead they are complaining about some mud that is made in a small country, that we rightfully own.”