Friday, March 1, 2019

The Weissers and the Grand Dragon

     A cantor named Michael Weisser and his wife, Julie, had moved with their family from Chicago to Lincoln, Nebraska. They felt that their children probably would be exposed to less anti-Semitism there than they experienced in the big city. As it turned out, the Grand Dragon of the White Knights of Ku Klux Klan of Nebraska, Larry Trapp, lived there. When he found out that the Weissers were living in Lincoln, he turned his ongoing campaign of hate mail and phone threats against them.
     Of course the Weissers were alarmed to experience such violent prejudice and were at first quite angry. However, after some time, the cantor had a change of heart, because he felt his faith taught him to love his enemies – and he wanted to put his faith into practice. Julie agreed and they contacted the Grand Dragon by phone with friendly intentions.
     The Weisser family found out that Larry Trapp was a diabetic, confined to a wheelchair, and gradually going blind, so they called and kindly offered to help him with his grocery shopping. His first response was an angry no, but after a pause his mood changed, and he thanked them for offering. The Weissers continued in their attempts to embrace their enemy. Finally, Michael suggested that they prepare a dinner and take it to Larry Trapp’s apartment. He reluctantly accepted their offer.
     When one of the cantor’s friends heard about their plan, he admonished Michael for going too far. Nevertheless, the Weissers did go to Larry Trapp’s apartment. It was a dark and sad place, with pictures of Hitler on the wall, but the dinner went fairly well. Gradually, Larry Trapp softened and his hostility subsided. He told the Weissers how his father had taught him to hate everything that was different from his white, Christian family.
     Later, when speaking of that dinner, Larry Trapp explained that he just couldn’t resist the Weissers anymore. He had never known love like that before in his life. Larry Trapp completely let go of his hatred and was transformed. He resigned from the Klan and wrote formal letters of apology to groups representing African-Americans, Native Americans, and Jewish-Americans. When diagnosed as terminally ill, he even moved in with the Weisser family and converted to Judaism before his death. 

– Reb Anderson (original source: Kathryn Watterson)