WE MUST FIGHT HATE AND USE OUR OWN WORDS CAREFULLY
From the Desks of Richard Sandler and Jerry Silverman
Words matter. Symbols matter.
They can hurt deeply, color attitudes and influence beliefs. They can escalate into racism, bigotry, anti-Semitism, discrimination and, ultimately, violence. They can wreak havoc on governments and civil societies. In the Jewish community, we have been witnessing what seems to be an escalating number of anti-Semitic incidents—swastikas and hate graffiti drawn on houses, in schools, in parks and on signs, among other rhetoric and images directed against Jews.
In the past few weeks alone, we have seen reports of an Arizona Jewish family’s chanukiyah twisted into a swastika; a swastika scrawled on the sign outside Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati; an anti-Semitic message painted onto a headstone in an Indiana cemetery; and swastikas in six locations in Palo Alto, California. Just yesterday, 16 JCCs received bomb threats, prompting hundreds to immediately evacuate these community havens. We are so thankful that no one was injured—or worse.
In Whitefish, Montana, neo-Nazis have harassed the town’s tiny Jewish community and are planning a march timed to coincide with Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend—a march, as its organizer says, “against Jews, Jewish businesses and everyone who supports either.”
The year 2016 saw a rash of alt-right, neo-Nazi and white nationalist messaging directed at Jews and Jewish journalists by people we presumed were hidden in the dark shadows of America. An Anti-Defamation League study that looked at just social media harassment from August 2015 to July 2016 found more than 2.6 million anti-Semitic messages, with 68 percent of them targeting journalists.
Historians are warning us of the dangers our country is now facing in light of seemingly growing hatred, writing in an open letter shortly after Election Day of the “fragility of democracies and the consequences for minorities when democracies fail to live up to their highest principles.”
In late December, the Center for Jewish History issued a statement reminding us that the Nazi campaign to annihilate the Jews “began with hateful words.”
So, what do we do to combat such hate?
We don’t dismiss it as childish pranks, or as no big deal. We call it out every time we see it, whether that hatred is against Jews or other minorities. We demand that our lawmakers and leaders condemn it; we urge them to follow the example of Montana’s governor, attorney general, U.S. senators and representative, who issued an open letter stating, “We stand firmly together to send a clear message that ignorance, hatred and threats of violence are unacceptable and have no place in the town of Whitefish, or in any other community in Montana or across this nation. We say to those few who seek to publicize anti-Semitic views that they shall find no safe haven here.”
We work with our communities, organizations and congregations, coming together and using all of our voices to fight hate. And most of all, we educate.
We educate through coalitions with members of other religious and racial groups, through teaching about the Holocaust and other genocides, and through explaining how words unchecked can lead to violence.
We educate by teaching our children about our own history, as well as the histories of other persecuted and marginalized groups.
We educate by teaching diversity, tolerance and empathy.
We watch our own words. We choose them even more carefully. And we use them to lead, to defend, to challenge and to educate.
Richard Sandler is chair of the Board of Trustees and Jerry Silverman is president and CEO of The Jewish Federations of North America
University of Pennsylvania's Jewish A Cappella Group
Every year, the Shabbatones, take their show on the road and travel around the world bringing their love of Jewish music to new places such as Florida, California, London, Houston and New Orleans. In addition to celebrating their 15 years of singing on campus, they like to perform for synagogues and community organizations, they love singing with students and teaching them to sing their favorite tunes during workshop sessions. Singing along with temple choirs, helping lead services and talking to students about Jewish life on campus are all parts of what makes tour their most memorable time of the year. (Wichita's own Sophie Beren is a member of the Shabbatones)
We can't wait to share their joy for music with OUR Jewish community. FEBRUARY 19!!
Watch for more information soon!
ANSWER THE CALL - THE JEWISH FUTURE IS ON THE LINE
It's not every day that we can improve lives around the world through a single phone call. But on Super Sunday, January 15, we can. It's a day for our Jewish community to come together as one in spirit and in action - to help people in need, rescue those in danger and keep Jewish life strong.
Please answer our phone call to make a generous donation to the MKJF's 2017 Annual Campaign so that thousands of Jews in our community, in Israel, and around the world can get the help they need.
Because of funds raised from donors like you, the MKJF can educate, inspire and strengthen Jewish connections and values to those of all ages. We advocate on behalf of Jewish concerns and issues, support Israel, and stand up against the rise in anti-Semitism and hate. And, we nurture, rescue and provide assistance to our people wherever they're in need.
“We Are Here! Be EXTRAORDINARY With Us!"
Volunteers are needed on Super Sunday to make the calls and send letters from 5:00-7:00 pm at Congregation Emanu-El. We welcome everyone to "pay it forward" with your positive energy through your volunteer efforts. No prior experience is necessary; we will provide you with helpful hints to make you a super Super Sunday volunteer!
You can save us a call! Make your 2017 MKJF Annual Campaign contribution today and we won't call you! Or you can donate online here by clicking on the DONATE NOW button.
Super Sunday Chair: Doris Weller
One day. One call. One community.
MKJF CAFÉ CHEVRE “FOOD IS MEDICINE”
MKJF welcomes Dr. Patrick Garrett to Café Chevre on Wednesday, January 18, 2017. We will meet at Congregation Emanu-El at 11:45 am. Dr. Garrett has a successful practice specializing in reversing acute and chronic conditions naturally.
We are genetically designed to be healthy, not sick. Come join Dr. Patrick Garrett for a life changing exploration to which foods help prevent & reverse chronic conditions like arthritis, heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, ADHD, and even genetic mutations. Learn how to eat your way out of any disease by viewing food as the original medicine.
Please remember: Everyone is invited to Café Chevre. Invite a friend! It's our lunch and learn program with topics of interest to all!