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Rabbi Elliott Responds To Anti-Semitism Rise

03/02/2017 04:46:28 PM




The recent surge in anti-Semitism and attacks on the Jewish community is unprecedented in contemporary American life. These terrifying actions have included over 80 bomb threats to Jewish Community Centers and Jewish Day Schools. Each bomb threat requires preschool children to be removed from their classrooms, elderly and disabled individuals (for whom mobility can be challenging) to quickly exit, and many others to disrupt their lives because of the real potential for violence. JCCs and other institutions have had to dedicate resources to being prepared for possible threats and keeping their members and staff safe. This week a synagogue in Indiana found that a bullet had been shot through the window of a religious school classroom. All of this is happening at the same time as horrible desecrations of Jewish cemeteries in St. Louis and Philadelphia, and the spike in anti-Semitic graffiti in places as close by as South Orange. These actions are terrifying and should be treated with the same seriousness as any terrorist action.  

It is painful and frightening to be living in a moment where anti-Semitism is rising on both ends of the political spectrum in the US. I am dismayed to live in a moment where I feel the need to clarify that fighting anti-Semitism and protecting Jews from discrimination is a central commitment of our community. I am disheartened to not see clear and universal denunciations of these incidents by all of our elected and civic leaders.

I do find hope in many powerful statements of support from the broader faith community. I am especially inspired by stories of Jewish-Muslim solidarity that keep rising to the surface at this moment. Organizers of the rebuilding of a mosque burned down in Tampa were initially mystified by the abundance of donations they received coming in multiples of 18, and were then moved to realize that all these gifts were coming from Jews. Likewise, it is profound to hear of the thousands of dollars donated by Muslims to repair desecrated Jewish cemeteries. I am inspired to hear stories from my many colleagues in Philadelphia of working side by side with clergy of all faiths to raise tombstones. These acts of solidarity feel especially important knowing there has also been a dramatic rise in hate crimes in recent months against many other minority communities.

Please know that Bnai Keshet was already in the process of reviewing and strengthening our security procedures, including meetings and calls with specialists from the ADL and our local police department. We are moving forward with heightened urgency and attention.

Bnai Keshet has always affirmed our commitment to klal yisrael – to the Jewish people as a central value. We stand in solidarity with our local JCCs and with our colleagues around the country who have been suffering on the front lines of these attacks. We must demand that our elected and civic leaders do everything in their power to root out this domestic terrorism. We will continue to look for ways to express our solidarity and to take action together as a community. I encourage you to take this opportunity to offer support to the ADL and to our local JCC. If you are not already a JCC member this is a moment to consider joining.


With Love & Courage,

Rabbi Elliott

Sat, June 15 2024 9 Sivan 5784