The statistics are mind-numbing. ADL reports that antisemitic events in the U.S. have increased nearly 400% since the Hamas attacks on Israel on Oct. 7. And that’s on top of the chilling, pre-Oct. 7 statistic that our national Jewish community representing just 2.4% of the U.S. population accounts for more than 60% of the religious hate crime events reported in America.
Government leaders told Congress last week that the threat to the security and safety of the nation’s Jewish community is rising to “historic levels.” And we shudder every time we hear of yet another antisemitic confrontation on one of our college campuses.
We have a serious problem. And it’s not going away.
Our communities and institutions are doing everything they can to protect themselves. Citizens groups are banding together to focus on neighborhood safety, and each of us is becoming more security conscious.
Local, state and federal governments are allocating funds and offering programs to support efforts to enhance Jewish communal security and harden our synagogues, community centers, schools and other institutions against threats and attacks. That all must continue and likely increase because of the clear, urgent uptick in needs.
But where does that get us? Do we want to be a community forced to live in a cocoon – sheltered from the bad guys by fences, gates and gun-toting security personnel? Do we need to hire guards to protect our children as they walk the streets, attend school and engage in extracurricular activities? Do Jewish stores, restaurants and other businesses need to enhance their security against antisemitic threats? Is that the new face of multiculturalism and religious tolerance in America?
Antisemitism in America is a stain on our nation. And it is up to every American – not just American Jews or government officials – to clean it up. That means every faith-based community, every racial community, every ethnic community and every socially and culturally sensitive activist community needs to step forward forcefully, visibly, loudly and persuasively in denouncing the evil of antisemitism and its decaying effect on society.
To our non-Jewish neighbors and friends, we have a simple message: We need your help. But we need more than just words. We need action. We need passion. And we need leadership. We need a clear, moral and ethical message that tells your community in a very clear voice why antisemitism is wrong and dangerous.
And we need you to explain to your community why intolerance and hatred toward Jews or any religious or ethnic group is just one more step toward the disintegration of an orderly society and the freedoms all Americans cherish. Your message needs to be that, along with everything else, antisemitism is bad for America.
America’s Jewish community is not going away. It will survive. It will continue to thrive. And it will continue to honor the American dream of opportunity and dignity for all people, irrespective of race, religion or any other feature that distinguishes one human from another. We are all God’s children.
We would love to have your help and support in the difficult journey ahead. Our Jewish community awaits your response.